GP gets rural practice allowance back after case
Irish Medical Times
Clare GP Dr Liam Glynn’s legal action against the HSE regarding his Rural Practice Allowance has been finalised and struck out of court after settlement was reached last month.
The case had a final mention in the High Court on Wednesday (December 9), when it was struck out, Phelim O’Neill Solicitors representing Dr Glynn confirmed.
Dr Glynn, who works out of Ballyvaughan and Fanore in Clare, lost his RPA almost two years ago and, unable to resolve the matter with the Primary Care Reimbursement Service, mounted a legal challenge.
When his senior partner retired in December 2013, the RPA was in his name and Dr Glynn applied to take it over.
In a letter to Dr Glynn, the HSE said its decision to reject his application was based on the fact that he had a GMS panel in excess of 700 patients.
Historically, the criteria for the RPA was that a doctor with a GMS contract must live and practise in a centre with a population of fewer than 500 people, and where there is not a town with a population of 1,500 or more within a three-mile radius. He argued he should be eligible because Ballyvaughan had, according to the 2011 Census, a population of 254 people and the nearest population of 1,500 was 10 miles away.
Under the settlement reached a number of weeks ago, Dr Glynn’s RPA was to be reinstated in full.
In a statement to Irish Medical Times, the HSE said that while it could not comment on individual cases, a recently produced guidance document issued to HSE managers allowed for greater flexibility in considering applications.
For example, where a GP practised in a centre with a population greater than 500, they would not have been eligible for the RPA under the original criteria and would have been dependent on a discretionary decision.
It clarified that under the new guidance, a doctor was eligible for a full RPA (including allowance, subsidies and locum expenses contributions) if the population was fewer than or equal to 1,500 within an 11.3km (seven-mile) radius of the principal practice address or half an allowance (with full subsidies and locum expense contributions) where the population was greater than 1,500, but fewer than 2,000 within an 11.3km radius.
“The purpose of the new guidance is to ensure consistency, transparency and fairness in decision-making in respect of the relevant discretionary provisions of the GMS contract pertaining to the granting or otherwise of the allowance to new applicants,” a HSE spokesperson said.
They added that the review of its guidelines had not affected existing RPA holders. However, when a GP retired from the GMS their successor was not automatically entitled to the RPA and each case would be assessed as a new application.
“The Department of Health, the HSE and the IMO are currently engaged in a review of the GMS and other publicly funded health sector contracts involving GPs. Among the many topics being looked at by this review process is the issue of supports for general practice in remote rural areas,” the spokesperson said.