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Financial incentives in deprivation areas ‘should be considered’ -ICGP

The study, Irish General Practice: Working with Deprivation, also recommends that a “deprivation practice allowance” similar to the Rural Practice Allowance should be examined.

Elsewhere, it states that any future expansion of GP training places should start with placing trainees in urban and rural areas of deprivation.

An example is the North Inner City GP training scheme, established in 2010, where trainees spend time training in the areas of addiction, homelessness and community service.

“This would promote the retention of doctors working in these areas,” the report states.

In 2010, CSO figures showed that people living in the poorest neighbourhoods will, on average, die 4.3 years earlier (men) and 2.7 years earlier (women) than those living in the richest neighbourhoods.

ICGP Assistant Medical Director Dr Brian Osborne, who authored the study, said: “We acknowledge that addressing health inequality is multidimensional but this needs to be addressed urgently in Ireland. There is a shortage of general practitioners working in deprived areas where the needs and demands of the patient population are greatest. Compared with the national average where there is one GP per 1,600 of population, there are certain areas where the GP patient ratio is much greater. In North Dublin for example there is one GP per 2,500 population.”

The College noted that 95 per cent of all patients seen are managed solely in general practice with a 5 per cent referral rate. It said that, despite this, general practice receives just 2 per cent of the health budget.

“This compares with 8 per cent in England (and the RCGP is campaigning for this to increase). This chronic underfunding has been exacerbated under the FEMPI cuts and had led to many practices not being viable. There were 21 GMS vacancies as of May 2015.”

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