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December 20, 2014

New recruitment ‘model’ for the supply of doctors

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By Gary Culliton.

A new ‘supply and demand model’ for GP and practice nurse services is now available, the programme for government ‘report card’ has revealed.

Researchers were asked to develop an interactive model to inform workforce planning for universal primary care, which will be introduced in phases so that additional doctors, nurses and other primary care professionals can be recruited. The outcome is a “functional and adaptable computer programme model”, the Department of Health has said.

The Universal Primary Care Project Team will make use of the model in the course of its work.

The Department of Health commissioned a study to develop the supply and demand model so as to facilitate workforce planning as the implementation programme on universal primary care is rolled out. According to the DoH, the study addressed a number of elements, including an estimation of current utilisation rates of GP and practice nurse services. This involved a breakdown by geographical area and a projection of the effect on utilisation/demand for GP and practice nurse services of demographic changes. These changes included population ageing and epidemiological trends. An assessment was also carried out on mismatches between demand and supply.

The 45-page Annual Report on the programme for government, released last week, listed 167 policy commitments and claimed that more than 150 had either been delivered or had been substantially progressed.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his evaluation of Ministers was not intended as a public exercise, the report pointed to a number of health initiatives, including establishment of the Special Delivery Unit to deal with problems in hospital emergency departments. The Health (Provision of General Practitioner Services) Act 2012 would also be commenced in March — it now has — allowing a wider range of registered medical practitioners to provide medical services to eligible persons under the GMS scheme.

The Taoiseach also stressed changes at the HSE — the new board and a new relationship with the Department, as well as more direct Ministerial responsibility — in his ‘report card’ assessment. The Government has agreed to introduce a new governance structure for the HSE for 2012, as a first step to it ceasing to exist.

Consultation on the Carers’ Strategy is set to commence shortly, and an extension of the cervical cancer vaccination programme — which began in September 2011 — was also highlighted.

In addition, extra funding for mental health services was stressed, and the Government has established a Universal Health Insurance (UHI) Implementation Group and a Universal Primary Care Group to play a central role in the introduction of UHI.

Jointly launched by Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore to mark the Coalition’s first 12 months in office, the report noted the Minister for Health had announced the establishment of two hospital groups in the West of Ireland, centred around Limerick and Galway hospitals, and it was the intention is to roll-out hospital groups for rest of the country in 2012.

The tax incentives for private hospital developments have been abolished, and a review of the Fair Deal system was currently taking place.

An Expert Group will report back to Government by June with options on how to implement the A, B, and C versus Ireland judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The Government submitted an Action Report to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on January 13 in relation to the judgement.

gary.culliton@imt.ie