In recent times several general medical practices have closed in small rural areas and the HSE have been unable to attract new practitioners. While Financial Emergency Legislation cuts were generally applied to all GP practices, the smallest practices have less of a financial buffer. Many of these practices tend to be in isolated rural areas. Furthermore the severe reduction in the Rural Practice Allowance affected rural practices disproportionately.
Rather than simply implementing cuts on an overall basis and seeing what the fallout is, we believe there should be a policy on area coverage. Where it is considered desirable to have small practices (for reasons of geography, need, public transport deficiencies, etc), the financial model should be reviewed to ensure these services remain financially viable.
• Agree a policy for desired GP area coverage.
• Ensure within that area structure the financial model allows for viable general practices. In particular restore the Rural Practice Allowance.