Scheme unveiled to encourage GPs to work in rural areas

Almost 100 additional GPs would qualify for €16,000 extra payment under proposal

 Leo Varadkar:  said there is a “real problem” in the supply of GPs in remote areas, though less than 1 per cent of all GP schemes are vacant. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Leo Varadkar: said there is a “real problem” in the supply of GPs in remote areas, though less than 1 per cent of all GP schemes are vacant. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

Revised financial supports to encourage doctors to work and stay in rural areas have been unveiled by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

Almost 100 additional GPs would qualify for a €16,000 extra payment each year, under the proposal to the Irish Medical Organisation.

Mr Varadkar said there is a “real problem” in the supply of GPs in remote areas, though less than 1 per cent of all GP schemes are vacant.

The issue is the subject of a grassroots campaign in several parts of the country where GP posts have gone unfilled for longer periods.

In Co Clare, the No Doctor No Village campaign plans to run a candidate in the general election.

Negotiations

Under Mr Varadkar’s proposals, the rural practice allowance would be paid to 250 GPs rather than 160 as at present, by easing the qualifying criteria to cover doctors over three miles from a town of 2,000 or more.

At present, the allowance is paid to doctors in a centre with fewer than 500 people and where there is not a town with a population of 1,500 or more within three miles.

In the second change, the allowance would apply to the area rather than the GP; so a district would retain the payment after a GP retires.

The proposal will be the subject of negotiations with the IMO.

*This article was amended on January 16th to correct an error