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Unprecedented Increase in Applications for GP Training Places

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has welcomed figures from the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) showing an unprecedented level of interest in General Practitioner (GP) training places. The figures confirm that 1,311 medical graduates have applied for GP training in 2024. This notable increase, surpassing all previous years, underscores the high demand among medical graduates and the growing confidence in the future of general practice.

Minister Donnelly said, “the figures released by the ICGP show that general practice is building on its already strong reputation as a worthwhile career choice for medical graduates. The government is committed to a reform agenda to achieve universal healthcare, where people can access the right care in the right place at the right time and general practice is at the core of that reform vision. The expansion in the number of training places for GPs to 350 in 2024 confirms the commitment to deliver this reform by increasing the number of GPs delivering essential services to patients.”

“The increase in training to 350 places in 2024 is a 35% increase on the annual intake over 2022. We’re already seeing an impact as for every two GPs that currently retire, we now have three to six new GPs entering practice. I’ve also fully supported the expansion of the ICGP’s non-EU doctors programme which will bring up to 100 GPs to Ireland this year, and a further 250 next year in an accelerated adaptation programme.”

The government has invested strongly in general practice, increasing expenditure by €211 million under the 2019 Agreement. This year, as part of the initiative to increase eligibility for GP visit cards to all children under eight, and for those earning no more than the median income, a further package of up to €130 million was announced.

The number of applicants for places on the GP training scheme has increased rapidly in recent years, trebling since 2019. The number of GPs in training has also increased in recent years, from 120 in 2009, to 258 in 2022 and 285 in 2023. The final phase of increasing the number of training places to 350 annually, originally scheduled for 2025, will now happen in 2024.

Congratulating the ICGP on its work, Minister Donnelly said, “I commend the ICGP on its success in increasing the number of training places for GPs in recent years. It demonstrates that collaboration between Government and healthcare partners produces results that will have a very positive impact on the delivery of healthcare to patients.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the ICGP, Fintan Foy, said, “it is very encouraging that so many doctors are choosing General Practice as their career, which offers a good work-life balance with strong career prospects and great opportunities to specialise. This also reflects the increased government funding in primary care, including Chronic Disease Management and the expansion in free GP care. The College is working with key stakeholders to establish new training schemes and/or additional day release within existing GP training schemes. We are working closely with the HSE NDTP, using a data-driven approach to target areas of high population growth and/or areas of unmet need.”


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