Income boosts agreed for rural GPs and student nurses
Rural GPs have agreed a new deal, which will see their special annual allowance rise from €16,216 to €20,000.
The move looks set to encourage GPs to stay in rural areas and provide an incentive to others to set up practice in districts where the population is smaller and more dispersed.
The Irish Medical Organisation is now recommending acceptance of the proposals, following months of controversy over the problems faced by rural GPs, who were finding it difficult to make their businesses viable.
Currently, 167 GPs receive the allowance and under the new criteria this number should almost double, Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Social Care Minister Kathleen Lynch announced yesterday. The new rates will take effect from May 1.
Any GP who gets the allowance automatically qualifies for additional benefits, such as grants to hire staff - extras which they might otherwise not get because they have a smaller list of medical-card patients.
There will also be increased rates of payment for GPs for suturing and bladder catheterisation. And a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring service by GPs has been introduced.
Meanwhile, student nurses also welcomed a significant restoration of their pay for when they replace staff nurses and midwives working a full roster.
The new deal also provides for the restoration of incremental credit, upon graduation, for this 36-week period, resulting in the new graduate moving to the second point of the scale - worth over €2,000 - after 16 weeks.
Cuts had left them getting less than the minimum wage, at €6.86 per hour. The new rates, which come into effect from March, provide that during the 36-week clinical placement, the pay of the fourth year will equal 70pc of the staff nurse scale, or €9.48 per hour. Some 16 weeks after graduation, they will move to the second point at €29,497.