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Written Answers - General Practitioner Services

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 35.  Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  his plans for the development of out-of-hours general practitioner services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16277/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall General Practitioner (GP) out-of-hours co-operatives are an essential part of our primary care services and help to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, care needs are met in the primary care setting. While there is no obligation on GPs to participate in co-operatives, GPs contracted under the General Medical Services Scheme must make suitable arrangements to enable contact to be made with them (or a locum/deputy) for emergencies outside normal practice hours. Co-operatives provide an ideal facility to enable GPs to discharge this obligation.

GP out-of-hours co-operatives are now in place in all HSE areas, providing coverage in all or in part of all counties. There were 949,703 contacts with GP out-of-hours services in 2011. A National Review of GP Out-of-Hours Services was published by the HSE in March 2010. It was the first national review to be undertaken since the commencement of publicly funded GP co-operatives in 1999. A working group comprising representatives from the HSE, the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Association of General Practitioner Co-operatives was established to advance the implementation of the recommendations. The HSE continues to work in close association with the GP co-ops on the implementation of the recommendations of the National Out of Hours Review. Potential new service delivery initiatives are currently being progressed which will facilitate added value and more responsive delivery models, integration between primary and secondary care and enhance the quality of patient care.

A new GP out-of-hours service commenced in Tallaght Hospital on 1st November 2011. It covers the Tallaght and Clondalkin areas and there are approximately 40 GPs in the co-op. There is a further commitment in the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster Regional Service Plan to the establishment of a GP out-of-hours service in Bray in 2012.

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