The HSE believes hospital day case lists could be reduced by up to 32 per cent through the expansion of the general practice minor surgery project.
However, no further roll-out of the initiative is envisaged until agreement is reached on community surgery in a new GP contract, a HSE spokesperson stated.
Nonetheless, a proposal to recruit an additional 120 GPs to take part in minor surgery is currently being finalised, the spokesperson said.
The proposal includes a plan to deliver up to 120,000 additional procedures in the first year.
The minor surgery pilot research project was launched in 2015 and some 4,263 procedures have been carried out, according to the HSE.
“Standards of care and the quality of the service are being refined on foot of the pilot project to ensure compliance with best practice, as dictated by HIQA, the ICGP and the NCCP [National Cancer Control Programme]”, the spokesperson stated.
“Features of the service included very high levels of patient satisfaction, low levels of complications and rapid access.”
The proposal has four strands and includes the extension of accreditation, the extension of electronic surgical audit, the design of GP collaboration in skin cancer care with the NCCP and the development of an inter-referral system between GP practices.
“A proposal is being finalised to recruit up to 120 additional GPs to create a national network with a capacity to reduce hospital day case lists by up to 32 per cent when fully operational,” the spokesperson stated.
“The proposal is a research and development undertaking and will be rolled out in quarter two, 2017. Meanwhile, a mechanism for commissioning in the longer term is being discussed with representative bodies to provide a sustainable service with a manageable budget.
“The HSE is currently in consultation with the IMO under the Framework Agreement on a new GP contract. Community surgery is a high priority for both parties and as such, will form an important part of the new contract. Until agreement is reached between both parties, no further roll-out of a community surgery initiative is envisaged.”
The pilot ran from August 2015 to April 2016, with 23 GPs in 20 practices participating.
The pilot was due to be extended to a further 40 practices in quarter four, 2016, but this did not occur.