Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 18 February, 1997

Written Answers. - General Practitioners.

41. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health his views on the age profile in the General Medical Services. [3942/97]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): I understand that the Deputy is inquiring about the age profile of general practitioners in the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme.

Statistical information about the GMS scheme is gathered by the General Medical Services (Payments) Board. The latest figures which are available from the board show that there are 1,652 general practitioners contracted with the health boards under the GMS scheme and the breakdown of their ages is given in the table below. I should point out that GPs who had signed contracts with the health boards, prior to March 1989 and who are still contracted under the scheme, must retire at 70 years of age. Doctors who entered contracts with the health boards since March 1989, must retire at 65 years of age. In certain circumstances, for example while a post is in the process of being filled, a doctor who is over 70 years of age may do his/her own locum by agreement with the health board.

Age as at 1997

Number of Doctors

Less than 30

2

30 to 34

33

35 to 39

154

40 to 44

319

45 to 49

409

50 to 54

306

55 to 59

169

60 to 64

92

65 to 69

103

70 and over

30

No age available

35

Total

1,652

I understand that the Deputy may have raised this question arising from comments made in the medical press about the alleged lack of adequate provision by the State which would allow early retirement by doctors participating in the GMS scheme. It should be borne in mind that general practitioners provide services under the GMS scheme, which covers 36 per cent of the population, on a contractual basis and the question of making adequate provision for retirement is a matter for the individual doctor, as a private contract holder. In this connection, the GMS capitation contract, which was introduced in 1989, provides for a contribution by the State to a [148] superannuation fund for contracting general practitioners which is administered by the Irish Medical Organisation.

These arrangements have been the subject of national agreements with the Irish Medical Organisation.