Health and primary care

 

Sir, – In the televised leaders’ debate, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “we are putting in more primary care staff and practice nurses”. The HSE does not “put” nurses into primary care. GPs are independent contractors who recruit and fund all practice nurses. They receive an allowance which does not cover the full salary paid by the GP to the nurse. The full allowance is only paid to GPs with 1,200 medical card patients or more. Those with 100 to 1,200 patients are a paid pro rata amount. There is no allowance towards providing and fitting out (IT system, diagnostic equipment, etc) a clinic room for the nurse, nor is there any allowance to employ a locum nurse for annual or sick leave. GPs who are in receipt of the full allowance and who wish to employ an additional nurse receive no additional allowance.

Regarding the additional €200 million funding for primary care the Taoiseach mentioned, this is only the beginning of the restoration of the 40 per cent cuts in payments and allowances under Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Fempi) legislation, and is conditional on additional workload. – Yours, etc,

Dr REGGIE SPELMAN,

Rosslare Strand,

Co Wexford.