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Thursday 14 December 2017

Lawyers, doctors and pharmacists face

Professionals including lawyers, doctors and pharmacists will face radical changes within nine months under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.

The removal of restrictions on the three professions singled out as "sheltered" is part of the Government's plan to drive down costs and increase growth in the domestic services sector.

The drive to boost competition must be completed by the end of September next year, according to the EU/IMF deal.

The legal profession will be subject to oversight by a new independent regulator and the Legal Costs Bill will be fast-tracked to drive down costs.

Restrictions on the number of GPs qualifying will be eliminated under the deal. More GPs will be able to treat medical card patients and restrictions on advertising will also be lifted.

The Government is determined to prolong its war with pharmacists by continuing its policy of halving the margins it pays to them for the drugs they dispense under the General Medical Services Scheme.

Judges will be given greater powers to impose massive fines and other sanctions in competition law cases to generate "more credible deterrence".

The impact of eliminating the cap on the size of retail outlets will also be reviewed as part of the plan to encourage growth in the retail sector and to reduce prices.

The tight deadlines will place significant pressures on the new government next year and will lead to the introduction of reforms of some restrictive practices.

Irish Independent

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