NAGP says latest deal on rural practice is “vindication” for doctors

But cautions enhanced fees must be viewed within context of new contract

A new deal that will increase the rural practice allowance and extend its eligibility has been welcomed by the NAGP.

The Association said that the announcement yesterday that the rural practice allowance will be increased to €20,000 from its current rate of €16,216 and will also be extended to partnerships and group practices is a vindication of efforts by the NAGP, along with GPs nationwide, to have the crisis in rural general practice addressed.

“Numbers eligible for the rural practice allowance will more than double under this latest agreement and the NAGP believes it is appropriate that the unique challenges faced by the rural general practitioner have finally been acknowledged by the current Government,” commented NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey.

“This is something we have been committed to over the last number of years and we have lobbied hard to get these issues recognised and addressed. Our members had already voted in favour of the new proposals and will be happy to see them finally implemented.”

The Association also commended the work in recent weeks of the “No Doctor No Village” campaign, saying this brought the issue into the public domain and also highlighted the true extent of the problem, Dr Michael Harty & Dr Jerry Cowley have showed incredible courage & selflessly campaigned on behalf of rural Ireland and their colleagues in general practice to highlight the crisis that is affecting our healthcare system.

The new agreement also addresses increases in payment for “special type consultations ” including suturing, catheter insertion, and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. “It is heartening to see that the Government has acknowledged the NAGP Clonmel submission document and have taken on board our recommendations however Mr Goodey cautioned that this is just the “first step” in rebuilding general practice in Ireland, and added that additional fees for these items must form part of the new GP contract, which he said is long overdue.

“We know that €960 million has been taken out of general practice in the last five years. While the additional payments are an acknowledgement of the time spent by GPs on certain tasks such as suturing and catheters, these must be viewed within the prism of a new fit-for-purpose GP contract.

It is vitally important that any new contract negotiations must include the NAGP & its 1,507 members.