Some rural GPs earning less than practice nurse, says Senator

Allowances for rural GP practice under review, says Minister

Labour Senator John Kelly said there were 21 vacancies for full-time GPs in rural Ireland of which 22 per cent had been vacant for two years

Labour Senator John Kelly said there were 21 vacancies for full-time GPs in rural Ireland of which 22 per cent had been vacant for two years

 

An appeal has been made for the State to increase allowances for rural GPs to entice more doctors into rural areas and prevent more from abandoning small practices.

Labour Senator John Kelly made the appeal as he claimed that in certain cases “some GPs are earning less than their practice nurses”.

There were 21 vacancies for full-time GPs in rural Ireland of which 22 per cent had been vacant for two years and 17 per cent for one year, he said.

He claimed that rural GPs lost 40 per cent of their income during the economic crash, including the loss of the rural practice allowance and the travel allowance for call-outs.

Mr Kelly said there was a crisis and investment was the only way to solve it. “We are talking about the resuscitation of general practice in rural Ireland.”

He called for a reversal of financial emergency measures introduced in 2008 and 2009.

But Minister of State Kathleen Lynch said they had to be careful about the language used. She said there were 18 vacancies in total and “percentages could often give a false view when you are talking about a small cohort of people”.

She said that all 18 vacancies were covered by locums. “In some cases as this has been on a prolonged basis, they will not be unfamiliar to the people they see on a daily basis.”

Allowance

The guidelines for the rural practice allowance had been reviewed for GPs applying for it, but it would not affect existing holders of the allowance.