IPA says Wexford GPs have an average of 1,118 patients
On average, GPs in Wexford have the second highest number of patients outside of Dublin and even in the capital it's only Dublin West where the figure is marginally higher.
According to the Irish Patients Association the 72 GPs practicing in Wexford have, on average, 1,118 patients each. The organisation also revealed that 65,647 people here have medical cards with a further 14,876 having GP-only cards. The total number of cards in the county is 80,523 and these are in relation to 49,636 families. Wexford is also well above the national average of 861 patients per GP.
The average payment per patient in Wexford is €195.80 while the average support payment provided, per patient, is €45.80.
The figures were recorded by the IPA as part of a review of medical cards, GP only cards, and fees for 2016.
The averages appear very high especially in view of the fact that the Irish Medical Organisation estimates that 26 per cent of GPs in Wexford will retire within the next seven years.
In a statement issued to this newspaper, Dr Stephen McMahon, from the IPA, said the addition of [free] visits for Under-6s has added greatly to the work load of many practices. In Wexford the average number of children under 6-years-of-age visiting their GP is 7,189 with 2,486 people over 70 visiting. They represent averages, per GP, of 100 (under-6s) and 35 (over 70s).
Dr McMahon also referred to Government plans to introduce free GP care on a phased basis to those aged under 18 and said: 'This is certain to increase the number of GP consultations per year.
According to the IPA, it's anticipated that 1,310 new GPs will be needed to keep pace with expected rises in consultations. The organisation also revealed that approximately €10m was paid to GPs in 2016 from training initiatives for trainee GPs.
Dr McMahon said the IPA is recommending that a national call centre be established to administer bookings for GPs and their referrals to consultants.
The organisation also highlighted there is no 'hard evidence of what is being delivered for the spend' and it recommends any new contract must have patient outcome performance as a measure for reimbursement.
In compiling its figures the IPA used HSE payment schedules for 2016 and merged them with official GMS medical card and doctor-only visiting cards for January, this year, as the base for its report.
The report was compiled in advance of a new national GP contract and Dr McMahon said it was the first in a series of analytical pieces on primary care.
'As the state begins the process on one of the largest contracts it will sign on behalf of its citizens, amounting to [between] €6.8bn over a 10-year period, we must be confident that it will deliver timely, high-quality, value-for-money health outcomes,' he said.
Dr McMahon went on to comment that his organisation is now calling for the 2017 report on the overall spending on medical and doctor-only visiting cards to be completed as a matter of urgency in preparation for the GP contract negotiations.