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News of the plan was carried in The Irish Times recently, with a report outlining that 15 salaried GP posts are to be created over a three-year period.
A HSE spokesperson confirmed to the Medical Independent (MI) that it is engaged in discussions with GP representative bodies on the issue of greater flexibility in relation to the type of GP contracts available.
“And on the basis that salaried arrangements may be more attractive to newly-qualified GPs,” said the spokesperson.
“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. Any further details in relation to this will be framed as part of the ongoing contract negotiations with GPs.”
However, Chair of the IMO GP Committee, Dr Pádraig McGarry, believes the proposal “is fraught with dangers”. He said the independent contractor model is the “gold standard” and that the move could undermine the independence of general practice.
NAGP President Dr Emmet Kerin said the NAGP rejects the plan as it stands. He said the HSE, if it intends to create salaried GP positions, needs to adopt a holistic and not a piecemeal approach to the issue. He noted that there could be a case for salaried GP positions to be used as a stepping stone for GPs establishing in practice as a short-term measure.
There was much reaction to the proposed move on Twitter, with Dublin GP Dr William Behan stating: “Salaried GPs are to be dispensed as politically-motivated goodies. No health technology assessment. @HSELive administrators benefit. Property developers benefit. Massive opportunity cost. No accountability. Dangerous precedent.” Another GP described the move as “window-dressing”.