IMO rejects Varadkar plans to encourage GPs to work in rural areas

Minister proposed changes aimed at retaining doctors outside of towns and cities

The Irish Medical Organisation has rejected the Minister for Health’s revised proposal to encourage GPs to work in rural Ireland. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times.

The Irish Medical Organisation has rejected the Minister for Health’s revised proposal to encourage GPs to work in rural Ireland. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times.

 

The Irish Medical Organisation has rejected the Minister for Health’s revised proposal to encourage GPs to work in rural Ireland.

Following months of negotiations, Leo Varadkar said last week the revised supports would qualify almost additional 100 GPs for the rural practice allowance, worth about €16,200.

The IMO issued a statement on Wednesday night after a meeting with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health. It said the proposals did not address the current crisis and negotiations would continue.

Dr Padraig McGarry, chairman of the IMO’s GP committee, said the union had put forward “realistic solutions” to retain doctors in rural areas.

He said the proposals would ensure patients would not be referred to the hospital where the costs were higher for the State.

“General practice around the country has suffered draconian cuts in recent years with over €160 million being taken out of the service. There are significant problems in rural areas,” he said.

The HSE has previously denied that the number of GPs in Ireland is falling. A spokesman said the number of contracts the HSE had with GPs increased by 400 in the last six years. The Government proposals came after a number of counties held public meetings on saving their local GP services.

The “No Doctor, No Village” campaign in Co Clare has confirmed its intention to run Dr Michael Harty in the upcoming general election to fight for GP supports and rural services.

Dr Harty said groups in Galway and Mayo were also considering nominating a candidate.