Statement by Mr. Alex White T.D., Minister of State for Primary Care

Consultation Process on new GP Contract to facilitate the introduction of free GP care for all children aged under six.

Friday, 31st January 2014

Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White, today announced the commencement of a consultation process on the content and scope of a new GP contract for the provision of GP care, free at the point of use, for all children aged under six years of age.

This is the first phase in the provision of a universal GP service for the entire population as set out in the Programme for Government and in Future Health.

A draft contract document has been developed, which will underpin the provision of GP care for children aged under six. The consultation process starting today relates to the content and scope of this contract. New enabling legislation is also being drafted.

The Minister is meeting today with key stakeholders – the Irish College of General Practitioners, the Irish Medical Organisation and the National Association of General Practitioners – to brief them on Government policy concerning the introduction of a universal GP service without fees, and in particular on the first phase covering children aged under six. The meetings will include a presentation on the key features of the draft contract.

The views of the general public and interested bodies are also being invited. The draft contract is available for review on the HSE website HERE. The closing date for receipt of written submissions by the HSE is February 21st 2014. The address is:

The Office of the Assistant National Director, Contracts,
Health Service Executive
Primary Care Division
St Loman’s Hospital
Mullingar
Co. Westmeath
or by email to natcontractsoffice@hse.ie

Minister White said: “I look forward to a constructive engagement over the coming weeks with GPs and their representatives on the scope of the contract. I am also interested in hearing the views of the general public on the type of service to be delivered to children under this new arrangement. This is the first public consultation of its kind and I am sure that this broad engagement will be helpful to all involved.”

ENDS Notes for Editors

The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service by 2016, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. As announced in the Budget, it has been decided to commence the roll-out of a universal GP service, by providing all children aged under six with access to a GP service without fees. This will mean that almost half of the population will then have access to GP services without fees.

The Government is providing new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the full year cost of this measure. This figure is based on an estimation of additional fee costs.

The implementation of this measure will require primary legislation. The necessary administrative arrangements will be made by the HSE when the specifics of the legislation are known.

GP Contract: Next Stage:

In parallel with the public consultation on the scope of the contract, the Department of Health and the HSE will engage in an exercise to develop a fee structure which will be the subject of further consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Once the fee structure is determined, the setting of the rates will be a matter for the Minister for Health subject to the provisions of legislation currently being drafted.

It is intended that the legislation will enable the Minister for Health, with consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to set (and vary from time to time) the rates of fees and allowances payable to general practitioners for the provision of services to all children aged under six years. The legislation will provide for public consultation, including consultation with representatives of GPs on those rates, but not for negotiation.


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