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Health | Supply of General Practitioners in North Kildare

To ask the Minister for Health the action that is being taken to ensure an adequate supply of general practitioners throughout north Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

GPs are self-employed practitioners and therefore may establish practices at a place of their own choosing. There is no prescribed ratio of GPs to patients and the State does not regulate the number of GPs that can set up in a town or community.
Under the GMS scheme, the HSE contracts GPs to provide medical services without charge to medical card and GP visit card holders. Currently there are 2,522 GPs contracted to provide services under the GMS Scheme.
Where a GP GMS vacancy is set to arise in a practice, the HSE is notified in advance and becomes actively involved in the recruitment process to find a replacement GP. As of the 1st of August 2022, there were 25 GMS vacancies across the country, just under 1 percent of the total number of GMS panels; there were no GP GMS vacancies in Co. Kildare.
The Government is aware of the workforce issues currently facing general practice and is working to ensure patients across the country continue to have access to GP services and that general practice is sustainable in all areas into the future.
Under the 2019 GP Agreement, the Government is increasing annual investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) between 2019 and 2023. The Agreement provides for an increase in capitation fees for GPs, additional services, improved family arrangements as well as a targeted €2 million fund to support to practices in deprived urban areas. These changes and others make general practice in Ireland a more attractive career choice.
A steady increase has been seen in the number of doctors entering GP training over recent years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 258 in 2022. The transfer of GP training from the HSE to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) which was concluded in 2021 will allow for the introduction of a new service model for GP training in Ireland and the further expansion GP training capacity in the years ahead. The ICGP aims to have 350 training places available for new entrants per year by 2026.
These measures will see an increase in the number of GPs working in the State, improving access to GP services for patients throughout the country.

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