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21 February 2024 (updated: 22 February 2024)
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Irish College of General Practitioners announces initiatives to help ease rural GP shortages. 

Training body for GPs welcomes Government supports and resources for rural general practice. 

For immediate release 21 February 2024 

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) is the professional body for general practice in Ireland. The ICGP is the representative organisation for education, training and standards in general practice with 4,200 members, and 1,044 trainees in supervised practice. It is responsible for training GPs on a four-year National Training programme. 

The ICGP recognises the longstanding challenges facing patients in securing timely access to their GP, especially in rural areas. In recognition of the GP workforce pressures, especially on rural general practice, the Irish College of General Practitioners has undertaken three substantial initiatives with the support of the DOH, HSE, IMO and Government. These will significantly address the GP workforce deficit and help ensure timely patients to their GP. 

350 GP Training Places this year. 

There is a 22% increase in training numbers for 2024 on last year, with an unprecedented 350 training places being offered in the coming weeks, to start in July 2024. A significant number of those training places are allocated to rural general practices. The ICGP has been steadily increasing intake in recent years, and there are now 1044 trainee GPs in the training programme, compared to 700 in 2019. 

International Medical Graduates (IMG) Rural GP programme for rural general practices.  

The role of the IMG Rural GP Programme is to identify and recruit experienced IMG Rural GPs, in accordance with the programme criteria and then facilitate, support and guide them in supervised practice for two years. 

The Programme also supports the IMG Rural GP to undertake the MICGP exam, leading to Specialist Registration with the Medical Council of Ireland. The strategic objective is to encourage the retention of the IMG Rural GP in Irish general practice. 

This programme, begun last year, has provided 100 GPs to work in rural general practices for two years. This has helped ease the pressures on GP practices in the south west, south east, Midlands and Western seaboard. It is planned that this programme will have recruited 250 experienced international GPs for rural GP practices by the end of 2024. 

Strategic Task Force on General Practice.  

The Department of Health has established this Task Force to help address the GP workforce crisis and plan for the expansion of the Irish population and GP services. 

In its pre-Budget submission last September, the College reiterated its call for more infrastructural supports for rural general practice in particular. 

The Medical Director of the ICGP, Dr Diarmuid Quinlan, said: "We need more resources and innovative incentives to enable GPs to establish and maintain viable practices in rural areas and areas of high deprivation. Multidisciplinary teams of practice nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and healthcare assistants can support GPs and provide more services for all patients across Ireland." 

The CEO of the ICGP, Mr Fintan Foy said: "The College recognises the severe strain on general practice in rural Ireland and is working very closely with the Minister, Department of Health and the HSE to alleviate some of pressures, while also realising some of the initiatives detailed here will take time to have a real impact. However, the International Medical Graduates (IMG) programme for rural general practices should have a more immediate impact, with the expansion of GP training a key strategic objective: appropriate resources are being place here to deliver a sufficient GP workforce for the people of Ireland." 


Issued by: Aileen O'Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners. 

Tel. 087 2239830 Email: