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In June 2015, changes to the entry provisions to the GMS Scheme occurred to accommodate flexible/shared contracts.
Any medical practitioner who is eligible to hold a GMS contract is entitled to apply to become party to a flexible/shared contract arrangement in accordance with the terms and conditions. Since their introduction in 2015, there have been six flexible/shared GP contracts entered into by GPs. The contracting party must consist of two GPs only.
“There have been six flexible/shared GP contract arrangements received nationally and all six flexible/shared GP contract arrangements have been granted,” a HSE spokesperson told MI.
“The introduction of flexible/shared contract agreements must be done on a cost-neutral basis and must not result in a diminution in the level or quality of the service available to the eligible population. The approval of a shared contract must not result in a reduction in the full-time equivalent (FTE) number of GMS contract holders in the locality,” they outlined.
“Each application for a flexible arrangement is considered on its merits and the HSE shall have due regard to the GP’s specific circumstances. The HSE, when reviewing the approval of an application from the eligible GPs for a flexible/shared contractual arrangement, shall have regard to the exigencies of the service, the needs of the eligible population in the locality of the practice(s) which is/are the subject of such an application and the general requirements underpinning such arrangements.”
A review of the GMS contract and other publicly-funded health sector contracts is currently underway. Issues pertaining to “the engagement and retention of general practitioner services will continue to receive active consideration”, said the HSE’s spokesperson.