GORT moved a step closer to getting its own primary care facility this week. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform outlined its infrastructure stimulus public private partnership programme worth €1.4 billion on Tuesday and as part of this, Gort was named a potential location for a primary care facility.
The South Galway town, along with 34 other locations, were identified by the Minister for Health but of these ,just 20 will get the go-ahead under the programme. These 20 will be commissioned only with agreement between the local GPs and the HSE on active local GP involvement in the centres.
The primary care centres will be “offered to the market in bundles of 10. The remainder will be considered for later phases of the PPP programme.”
According to East Galway Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins, “The procurement of the health projects will commence before the end of this year and construction of the first bundle will start in 2014”.
Senator Higgins recently brought up the issue of the provision of the primary healthcare facilities in the area with junior health minister Kathleen Lynch. While she has welcomed the announcement that Gort and Tuam are on the list of 35, it is unclear which bundle, if either, the two East Galway towns will fall into.
“It hasn’t become clear yet with regard to what primary care centres will be in the first and second bundles. That said, today my lobbying begins to get Gort into the first bundle. The people of Gort and surrounding areas have my full commitment to getting this centre prioritised in the first bundle,” Senator Higgins told The Clare Champion.
“The first step is this process is that the Department of Health will contact GPs in the area and the HSE and will be looking at them to provide all the services in one unit, at one site. Then heads of agreement will be arrived at by the HSE and GPs in particular and then they will have to locate a suitable site in Gort or perhaps look at buildings that are in NAMA if they are suitable to house these primary care centres,” she added.
Following the announcement, Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, said, “The primary care infrastructure model offers a good fit for public private partnership financing. The Programme for Government states that expenditure on health infrastructure will be a priority. This new stimulus package will underpin progress to date and provide a much-needed jobs boost. This PPP initiative will complement and build on the processes HSE has already in place in its capital programme.”
The minister added, “International research shows that shared premises are a key enabler for successful team working in the primary care setting. Shared premises encourage and facilitate interaction across all healthcare professionals, which is why the Government is committed to further developing the network of new primary care centres.”
He also announced the planned recruitment of over 270 new staff to work in primary care.
Minister Reilly stated, “Key frontline staff will be recruited and funded by a special allocation of €220m, which was set aside as part of the HSE’s 2012 National Service Plan to fill posts in primary care.”
According to the Department of Health, this shift in emphasis to community-based services is good for patients, clients, health professionals, acute hospitals and delivers the best value.