The HSE plans to progress a further 135 primary care centres (PCCs) within the next three years and is targeting a total of 350 centres nationally, according to a PCC developer.
Healthcare Director at Bartra Capital Group, Mr Kevin Beary, said PCC development has accelerated in the last six months, with more tenders released to establish new centres.
Some 99 centres have been built to date, with a further two — possibly three — to become operational in the near future, the Medical Independent (MI) understands.
Minister for Health Simon Harris recently told delegates at the Primary Care Partnership Conference in Dublin: “There are 37 locations where primary care infrastructure is under construction or at advanced planning and a further 47 locations are at preliminary stages of development. Taking account of the above, 17 centres are expected to open in 2017 and 11 in 2018.”
Mr Beary said the HSE, doctors and the private sector are now working well together following several changes to bolster primary care development.
“The doctors, in my experience, now are a lot easier to convince to go into primary care centres than they were three or four years ago,’ stated Mr Beary.
“There has been a lot of progress made with GPs in the last four-to-five years because of the problems with funding, getting banks to fund them… The GPs who were previously resisting going into centres are now finding that it actually is a way of protecting their practice because they will gain access to modern facilities that they don’t have to pay for.”
He added: “In quite a lot of instances, people who got awarded tenders by the HSE never delivered because they either didn’t have the money or the expertise, so as a result of that, the current tender process is much more rigorous for people to get through.”
However, GPs have warned of the need to also support existing premises and have noted good examples of primary care team functionality when teams, including GPs, are located in the same building and when they are not.
See news analysis, pages 4-5