Press Release

Martin welcomes first Evaluation Report on the General Practice Out of Hours Pilot Projects

Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children, today (Monday, 24 September 2001) welcomed the first evaluation report on the operation of the pilot GP Out of Hours Co-op models in the North Eastern Health Board (North East DOC) and South Eastern Health Board (CAREDOC).

He said: “When I took up office as Minister for Health and Children, I identified the need to ensure that there is an appropriate primary care service at nights, at weekends and on public holidays. I saw the development of General Practice Out of Hours Co-operatives as one way of meeting that need. I am encouraged by this report. It indicates that these Co-op models have a great deal to offer not only in terms of providing a specific general practice out of hours service but even more importantly in their potential for further development in terms of an expanded range of primary and community cares services.”

The Minister added that the pilot co-op models were an excellent example of what can be achieved through the partnership approach between his Department, Health Boards and General Practitioners. He added, however, that while the report indicated that both pilot models had performed very well there were still a number of operational and structural issues identified in the report that needed to be resolved before the co-op model could be rolled out nationally. For example, the report had raised serious concerns regarding levels of out of hours claims by GPs in certain individual instances.

The Minister also stated that he knew from the national conference on General Practice Out of Hours Issues held in the City West Hotel in late June that there was very considerable interest in this whole area. He hoped that the report would receive wide coverage and be read by everyone concerned with health care service provision.

He concluded by saying “it is my intention to have my officials consider, in consultation with Health Boards and General Practitioners, how the findings of the report and the views expressed at the national conference can be taken onboard so that further Co-ops can be introduced as funding becomes available.”