Irish College of General Practitioners proposes 10 potential solutions to the growing shortage of GPs, in a comprehensive Discussion Paper called “Shaping the Future of General Practice.”

ICGP Research shows Budget 2023 extension of free GP cards could lead to 640,000 more GP consultations.

Embargoed 10.30am Saturday October 15th 2022  The ICGP holds its Autumn Conference today (15th October 2022), in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, where GPs gather in person for a day of discussion and clinical learning. 

Against a growing workforce and workload crisis, most GP practices in both urban and rural Ireland are unable to take on new patients. 

A 2021 Membership Survey showed that almost three-quarters (74%) of GPs surveyed said they were unable to take on any new private patients, while almost 8 in 10 (79%) could not take on any new GMS patients.

ICGP research also indicates that the extension of free GP care to over 400,000 patients could lead to another 640,000 GP consultations.

The ICGP launched its wide-ranging Discussion Paper “Shaping the Future of General Practice”, in which it presents 10 potential solutions to the growing shortage of GPs and expanding workload.

The Chairman of the ICGP Board, Dr John Farrell, said:  “Your GP is your first point of contact for your personal health, who co-ordinates your care, knows your history, and refers you to specialists, for a wide range of diseases over a period of your lifetime. GPs and their practice teams deliver 29 million consultations every year, and that doesn’t include out-of-hours services.”

He added: GP practices are busier than ever, but less able to find replacements for retiring GPs, or new GPs to expand their practices and deal with growing workloads. The ICGP is now training 70% more GPs per year than it did 6 years ago, but we have an ageing workforce and an expanding population. 25% of our GPs are over 60 years of age. More and more patients are unable to register with a GP practice, because many practice lists are at full capacity, and already there are significant waiting times for routine appointments.”

Professor Tom O’Dowd, former ICGP President and GP in Tallaght,  chaired the ICGP group which produced the “Shaping the Future” Discussion Paper.

He said: “We propose solutions in this paper, but it is the key stakeholders working collectively that will help produce the solutions. This is an urgent problem that cannot be solved overnight, and while we welcome the Minister’s decision to establish a strategic review of general practice we urge the Minister to act immediately and to begin the process of finding innovative solutions to this crisis. This review and establishment of a Working Group is needed as a matter of urgency if the extension of free GP care is to proceed.”

The ICGP’s potential solutions are:

  • Expand GP-led Multidisciplinary Teams.
  • At least double the number of GP Practice Nurses.
  • Resource the career expectations of future GPs.
  • Provide suitable premises for GP-led Multidisciplinary teams.
  • Implement a programme to support non-EU GPs in rural GP practice.
  • Increase remote consulting.
  • Introduce a career pipeline for rural general practice.
  • Develop the role of Practice Manager.
  • Increase exposure to General Practice in Medical Schools.
  • Invest in GP data-informatics to drive policy and practice.

The CEO of the ICGP, Fintan Foy, said “This Discussion Paper, driven by our members’ concerns, provides workable solutions and the ICGP is ready to play its part as a key stakeholder as part of a strategic review. For the sake of our patients and to retain high quality clinical care within the community, the need for Government and those in authority to respond is now critical.”


Read the full Discussion Paper here


Media photography supplied by David Coleman of Bobby Studios.  Tel. 087 678 7899

ISSUED BY:  Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners. Email: 087 2239830