Health | To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which out-of-hours general practitioner services are sufficient in all areas throughout the country
To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which out-of-hours general practitioner services are sufficient in all areas throughout the country; the areas of most concern; the proposals for a resolution of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
GPs contracted under the General Medical Services Scheme are required by their contract to make suitable arrangements to enable contact to be made with them, or a locum or deputy, for emergencies outside of normal practice hours. While there is no obligation on GPs to participate in GP out of hours co-operatives as a means of meeting the contractual requirement, such services facilitate the provision of GP services outside of normal surgery hours and help to spread the burden of this provision. Only a small number of areas are not covered by GP out of hours co-operatives, instead out of hours services are provided by local GPs.
The HSE is in regular contact with out of hours service providers. In particular, over the past two years there has been greater engagement to ensure that the services can continue to provide the supports needed by local communities. In recognition of the key role GP out of hours service providers play in the delivery of our health service and the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, a financial and service stability arrangement for GP Out of Hours cooperatives was introduced with effect from 14th March 2020.
GP out of hours cooperatives are private organisations. The HSE provides significant funding to support out of hours co-operative services through service level agreements; the HSE has responsibility for determining the allocation of funding from its budget. As the provision of out of hour GP services is a service, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly in relation to regional GP out of hours service levels, as soon as possible.
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