The HSE set a target of conducting 16,640 scans and by the end of November the number of scans undertaken was 19,119, a spokesperson for the HSE revealed.
“The HSE has exceeded its target of 16,640 scans by approximately 2,500,” said the spokesperson.
They added that “priority actions for the expansion of radiology services for GPs” are being included in planning documents for 2018.
NAGP President GP Dr Emmet Kerin said the initiative to improve direct access for GPs to ultrasound in primary care has been “very positive”.
“This has been a very positive development and has definitely impacted on waiting times,” said Dr Kerin, who is based in Limerick.
“It has led to a reduction in waiting lists, particularly for women with pelvic pain and cysts. It has been very useful.”
In 2017, the HSE set several ultrasound scan targets in nine locations nationally, including St Camillus’ Hospital, Limerick, where more than 2,000 scans were targeted.
A boost in ultrasound services was also planned in Kerry, Cork, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Donegal.
The improvement in services came following a tender process in which Euromedic was selected to provide ultrasound services in primary care settings in 2015.
Some €750,000 was allocated to the project in 2015 and greater funds were sought for 2016 as part of plans to expand the programme, it is understood.
In 2013, the ICGP published a report on access to diagnostics that highlighted deficiencies, with more than 20 per cent of GPs in the public system without access to abdominal or pelvic ultrasound.
The report also revealed long waiting times in the public system for diagnostic services, as opposed to the private system.