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Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice & Equality, David Stanton, has welcomed the Government’s agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on major GP contract reforms.

Minister Stanton said: “The Department of Health, HSE and IMO have agreed a set of measures for the provision of new services which should benefit both patients and GPs. The agreement contains a series of service developments, including more cost-effective electronic prescribing of medicine and pharmacist-led medication reviews, waiting list validation, and the use of new information and communication technology systems for patient records.

“These improvements, which should make healthcare safer and more efficient, will be secured by a 40% increase in Government investment in general practice which equates to €210m over the next four years. The reforms will also place patients at the centre of healthcare delivery while encouraging medical students to pursue a career in general practice. Rural areas, in particular, need more GPs so the rural practice allowance will be increased by 10% in 2020.

“The Government has also signalled its intention to extend the free GP care to all children aged 6-12 years building on the success of the rollout of GP visit cards to children under 6 years and the over 70s. A chronic disease management programme will commence in 2020 and will benefit more than 430,000 medical card and GP visit card patients over four years.

“I appreciate that GPs have been under pressure to maintain services in the face of increasing demand and stretched resources and I hope that these changes will put general practice on a more sustainable footing into the future making it an attractive and exciting career choice for doctors”, concluded Minister Stanton.