Removal of Restrictions on GPs Wishing to Treat Public Patients

12 March 2012

Dr. James Reilly TD, Minister for Health, today (12 March, 2012) announced the commencement of the Health (Provision of General Practitioner Services) Act 2012.

The Health (Provision of General Practitioner Services) Act 2012 provides for the elimination of restrictions on General Practitioners (GPs) wishing to obtain contracts to treat public patients under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme by opening up access to GMS contracts to all fully qualified and vocationally trained GPs. There will be no limits on the number of contractors. Previously, GPs could only obtain GMS contracts in restricted circumstances.

The Minister said, “The elimination of restrictions on GPs, introduced in this Act, is a major step forward in the development of Primary Care, allowing many young, highly qualified and trained GPs, who were previously prevented from obtaining a GMS contract early in their careers, to apply for contracts now.

“I welcome this significant step which will contribute to the commitment in the Programme for Government to strengthen primary care services to deliver universal primary care with removal of cost as a barrier to access for patients.

“I am confident that the Act will contribute to this commitment as it will encourage more young GPs to remain in Ireland and to establish their practices here and it will make it more attractive for GPs to move here from overseas. It will also encourage competition among GPs at a time when many fee paying patients have less money at their disposal.”

The new changes will allow new GMS contract holders to establish their practice in the location of their choice. However, a contract holder approved by the HSE in an area who wishes to move location may only do so with the prior approval of the HSE. This is designed to ensure continuity of care for patients.

The Act will also result in medical card and GP visit card patients having greater choice of GPs under the GMS Scheme and it will also ensure that private patients of new contract holders, who may subsequently qualify for a medical card or GP visit card, will not have to change their GP.

Further Information

GPs wishing to apply for a GMS contract under the new open entry arrangements may do so by contacting the National Contracts Office of the HSE for an application form at:

E-mail: natcontractsoffice@hse.ie
Phone: 044-9330762