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This is despite the fact that the introduction of salaried GPs was referenced in the 2016 Programme for Government and Minister for Health Simon Harris has voiced his support for the introduction of salaried GPs where required.
In January, The Irish Times reported that the HSE had outlined a plan to the Government for 15 salaried GP posts to be created over a three-year period. A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that salaried GPs continues to be pursued as a “priority option”.
In an interview published in MI earlier this month, Minister Harris said he was in favour of the concept “in an optional sense”. He also said he respected the fact that in many cases GPs did not want to be salaried HSE employees.
However, despite this political support, the Department said substantive discussions on salaried GPs have “not progressed” with GP representative bodies over the last year. Any future introduction of salaried GPs would “require careful consideration”.
“The Programme for Government commits to mandating the HSE to employ GPs on a salaried basis where needed and put in place support structures and staff,” the Department’s spokesperson told MI.
“There has been no feasibility study or analysis of requirements undertaken thus far.
“Any proposed model involving salaried GP positions would require careful consideration to ensure the required level of service could be provided for GMS/GP Visit Card patients.”
Speaking to MI last month, IMO and NAGP representatives delivered a cool response to the Executive’s proposals on salaried GPs.
The HSE’s spokesperson informed MI: “The discussions with the GP representative bodies are continuing, but this (along with many other primary care measures) was included in the estimates discussion documents and it continues to be pursued as a priority option, especially for areas where it may be difficult to recruit GPs under traditional contract arrangements.”
Minister Harris has said that negotiations on the GP contract and FEMPI will recommence in April.
Funding to GP services was cut by 38 per cent through FEMPI and some communities will lose up to half of their GPs to retirement in the next five-to-seven years.