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Additionally, to May of this year, some 34 GPs/GP practices have been paid €344,690 for such services. The figures represent the total amount paid, net of Professional Services Withholding Tax (20 per cent).
Visits to civilian GPs by Defence Forces personnel fall under three main categories, relating to primary healthcare or occupational medicine. The first involves civilian GPs attending ‘sick parade’ to provide primary care to personnel.
“The sick parade is a walk-in, GP-type service, provided on a weekday basis as required in military barracks,” a Department spokesperson told MI. “Where a Defence Forces doctor is unavailable, a civilian GP provides the service. At the sick parade, the GP examines the patient and provides treatment/follow-up as deemed appropriate.” GPs are paid a fee per patient.
Civilian GPs also provide services after hours to personnel who do not live in the vicinity of a military medical facility. Similarly, if a member is injured on a training exercise and requires immediate medical assistance, they can be sent to a local GP or hospital if necessary.
Lastly, all members of the 9,000-strong Permanent Defence Force are required to undergo a mandatory medical examination at least once in every 12-month period, and this may also involve civilian doctors.
“In so far as is possible, occupational medicals are carried out by Defence Forces doctors. However, due to a shortage of military doctors, the Department tendered for and recently placed a contract with an occupational health practice to carry out 1,200 occupational medical examinations.” Medwise Ltd in Naas won the contract.
As MI exclusively reported in the last issue, the application for specialty recognition from the Faculty of Military Medicine, an academic medical body, has passed the first of the two-stage process with the Medical Council. Specialty recognition would likely increase the number of serving doctors.
Some 20 military doctors are currently in service.