Minister for Health Mary Harney has indicated that the Government is ‘unlikely’ to be in a position to make any further incentives available to GPs to build and equip new primary care centres.
Responding to a question in the Dáil from Labour TD Ciarán Lynch, Ms Harney said that the HSE was offering to take 25-year leases at agreed rates in primary care centres that have GP involvement. “GPs and health professionals entering such centres are doing so at very attractive rates, which developers can only offer because of the security and value of the HSE lease,” she stated.
However, she added that, given the current economic climate, further incentives along the lines suggested by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in its report on ‘Primary Medical Care in the Community’, published in February, were unlikely.
The Oireachtas Committee felt there needed to be a range, albeit limited, of different appropriate incentives available to facilitate the various primary care project models and geographic demands.
A menu of possible incentives that could be considered by the Departments of Health and Finance included: capital tax allowances against all income; stamp duty relief on the purchase of a site; double rent relief for health professional tenants; and double the interest relief on all loans, and capital investments, for owner occupiers.
The provision of a tax relief for significant innovation and/or delivery of new clinical services not previously available in primary care was another option, the report stated.