Guaranteed funding secured for out-of-hours GP co-ops

Guaranteed funding stream secured for out-of-hours co-ops for the remainder of 2020

A guaranteed funding stream, equivalent to 100 per cent of General Medical Services (GMS) out-of-hours (OOH) claims for the same period last year, September 1 to December 31, 2019, has been secured for this year for the GP co-operatives, Irish Medical Times reports.

The agreement is to run from September 1 to December 31, according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

National Association of GP Cooperatives Chair Dr Ken Egan has welcomed the agreement on a guaranteed funding stream for the remainder of this year.

While fees for OOH services had been agreed during the latest round of talks with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive, the IMO underlined that negotiations on OOH fees had been undertaken on foot of a specific request from the National Association of GP Co-ops.

The only condition to the agreed 2020 funding was the provision of Covid-19 assessment/test referral on a Saturday and Sunday, with no charge for GMS or private patients.

Prior to the latest agreement on a guaranteed funding stream, the issue for OOH services had been that the payment model of Special Type Consultations was based purely on face-to-face consultations, with no fee paid for any other type of GP consultations.

Dr Egan said co-ops had seen a 50 per cent drop in face-to-face consultations at the outset of the pandemic. While, overall, calls dropped to as low as 20 to 30 per cent at that point, they had returned to levels that were “as high as ever”.

Also, lately, Dr Egan highlighted that the co-ops were receiving OOH calls, from Monday to Friday, from patients seeking testing for Covid-19.

The co-ops were encouraging people to contact their own GPs the following morning to better help the system with returns on confirmed cases.

Referral through the OOH services for testing was “more complicated”, and involved the public health services, rather than through the established system with their own GPs.

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