A new grant is needed to help GPs with the costs of setting up new practices, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Galway West Senator Seán Kyne, a member of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee, said, “Despite an increase in the number of GPs in training, we’re facing a serious shortage of GPs in communities, both urban and rural.
“At a recent Oireachtas Health Committee, we heard directly from GPs on the challenges facing primary care services in our communities with a shortage of practices in rural areas and long waiting lists in urban centres.
“GPs, along with practice nurses, administrative and other staff, are the first line of defence in our health service. We know that early intervention in health matters leads to better outcomes for patients and reduces pressure on hospitals.
“There have been positive developments, including the new 2019 agreement with GPs, the increase in the number of primary care centres and the increase in the number of trainee GPs – up from 120 in 2009 to 233 last year.
“However, the costs of setting up a practice, including identifying and acquiring suitable premises, setting up new IT systems, recruiting medical and administrative staff, among other issues, are significant barriers for GPs, particularly those starting off in their careers. Added to the challenge is the fact that we have a growing but ageing population.
“We need to tackle these challenges head on and I will be raising the need to introduce an establishment grant or tax relief to encourage and enable GPs to set up new practices directly with Minister Stephen Donnelly,” concluded Senator Kyne.