HSE to examine if it should hire its own GPs for the first time to deal with family doctor crisis


The potential for GPs to be directly employed on a salary by the HSE for the first time to cope with a shortage of doctors in rural and deprived areas will be examined in a new review to be announced next week.

t could mean that some GPs would be employees of the HSE in some areas, rather than the current system where they are self-employed and do contract work for the HSE.

The potential is outlined in terms of reference for the strategic review of general practice to be announced by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly next week.

There are currently around 2,807 full-time GPs but around 500 are nearing retirement.

It comes against a background of more GPs having to close their doors to new patients leaving thousands of people without a family doctor.

The review, which is to be completed this year, will aim to identify the challenges facing general practice in delivering a sustainable service into the future.

It will set out the actions needed to address the challenges which include an ageing workforce.

Three practising GPs will take part in the Department of Health project group overseeing the review to reflect the voice of the doctor.

The terms of reference include looking at demand and capacity projections.

It will prepare thematic discussion papers to support the work of the group as appropriate.

It aims to ensure that there is an adequate supply of general practitioners to meet the changing needs of the population, and identify measures to address retention of GP graduates at every stage of their career.

The review will look at expanding the GP team to ensure efficient and effective service delivery with all members of the team working as closely to the top of their licence as possible, with particular focus on the role of GP nursing and administrative support for practices.

There will also be consideration of the value of the development of other potential roles that would improve service delivery while taking account of the development of wider community services through the Enhanced Community Care Programme.

Other issues examined include maximising available and future GP capacity, including panel sizes, providing for practice establishment and succession planning as well as integrating with wider health services.