The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has been campaigning for almost 2 years to have the Rural Practice Allowance put on a proper footing to ensure the survival of vital primary care services, particularly in more isolated regions. The NAGP was instrumental in supporting the “No Doctor No village campaign” as well as the successful High Court action taken by Dr. Liam Glynn to have his Rural Practice Allowance restored.
Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP commented, “We are delighted to see that the Minister has today announced that he intends to restore the Rural Practice Allowance and is prepared to widen the criteria. We understand that he may also deal with the majority of issues we raised in our submission on GPs contracts. In particularly, we suggested that when it came to primary care the Minister should focus on the following areas;
- Supporting rural General Practice;
- Supporting urban deprived General Practice and people in greatest need;
- Adequately resourcing chronic disease management in General Practice;
- Retaining newly trained GPs;
- Streamlining Special Type Consultations;
In his statement last week, he agreed to tackle 4 out of 5 of these areas of General Practice where increased support will yield benefits for patients and reduce the pressure on secondary care services. Community general practice continues to receive less than 3% of the overall health budget, despite having over 90% of the patient contacts in the health service. This is compared to 8.9% in the UK. We hope that last week’s and today’s announcement will go some way to rebalance budgets in favor of the patient.”
We must also acknowledge the enormous efforts made by the rural GP group chaired by Liam Glynn, a GP and Senior Lecturer in General Practice with the National University, in persuading the minister that uneconomic general practices needed to be offered this financial lifeline to support patients in their communities and to take the pressure off secondary services in regional hospitals.