The issue of such payments form part of the current contract negotiations around a new GP contract, the IMO said.
A spokesperson for the NAGP also told this newspaper that it supported some form of weighted deprivation payment system in a new contract and that it had also discussed the issue in talks with the Department last year.
In terms of these talks earlier this month a spokesperson for the Department of Health told the Medical Independent (MI) that “officials from the Department of Health and the HSE met with the IMO at the beginning of May to set out the State’s position in relation to reform of the GMS contract.”
“Agreement on the delivery of service improvements and contractual reform has the potential to facilitate a substantial increase in the resourcing of general practice.”
MI asked the Department whether deprivation payments were part of these discussions, but the spokesperson replied “In line with the long established approach to such processes, and by agreement of the parties concerned, the Department is not in a position to give further details at this stage.”
According to the Department in 2017, there were approximately eighteen formal meetings with the IMO in relation to contractual development proposals, in addition to informal meetings to discuss technical and clinical issues. There were eight consultative meetings with the NAGP
However, the IMO confirmed that the issue has been raised in the contract talks.
“The issue of a deprivation weighting for deprived patients or a deprivation allowance for GPs working in deprived areas is one which the IMO have consistently raised with government,” a union spokesperson told MI.
“It remains an issue under the Memorandum of Understanding. Patients in deprived areas often have co-morbidities and on average have a significantly lower life expectation. As the GMS is weighted on the basis of age and these patients tend to have significant health problems at a much younger age it is necessary to weight specifically for such patients.”
NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey told MI that the Association also supports the introduction of some form of weighted payment or resource system in a future contract to reflect the reality of deprivation and inequality. However, when speaking to MI Mr Goodey also highlighted the NAGP’s serious concerns with the lack of general progress made thus far in contract negotiations.