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IMO examining rural practice proposals

The offer proposes that any sole practice with fewer than 2,000 people living within three miles will be eligible for a €16,000 grant, a full secretarial allowance and a full practice nurse allowance.

As reported online by MI last week, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar flagged the proposal at an IMO GP seminar in Dublin on Wednesday.

He said the move would increase the number of practices in receipt of such supports from about 160 to 250.

MI understands the Government is keen to expedite the measures in advance of the upcoming General Election.

Currently, there are five GMS list vacancies in rural areas, compared to ten in urban locations. However, the fact that a large number of rural GPs are approaching retirement is causing concern.

Separately, the Minister is also open to restoring distance codes for GPs. These were cut as part of the FEMPI process and will be the subject of further discussions with the IMO.

At last week’s IMO seminar, Minister Varadkar had also said he was eager to make progress on new items of service, “particularly around enhanced STCs”.

He noted that suturing was not economic for most GPs and an agreement could reduce ED attendances for minor injuries.

“Something similar is perhaps possible on 24-hour blood pressure monitoring and also on long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).”

In other comments, the Minister had said that the Departments of Health and Finance had agreed to establish a working group “with a view to including something in the budget for 2017, to support GPs and others who want to invest and expand their existing premises”.

Meanwhile, the NAGP said it was “delighted” that the Minister had “announced that he intends to restore the rural practice allowance and is prepared to widen the criteria”.

Mr Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP, commented: “We understand that he may also deal with the majority of issues we raised in our submission on GPs’ contracts. In particular, we suggested that, when it came to primary care, the Minister should focus on the following areas; supporting rural general practice; supporting urban deprived general practice and people in greatest need; properly resourcing chronic disease management in general practice; retaining newly trained GPs; streamlining Special Type Consultations.”

The NAGP maintained that it was “instrumental” in supporting the ‘No Doctor No Village’ campaign and the successful High Court action taken by Dr Liam Glynn to have his rural practice allowance restored.

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