Universal primary care: cost and workforce implications

December 21, 2022
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In 2017, a report (the Sláintecare report) from a cross-party parliamentary committee recommended the introduction of universal general practitioner (GP) and primary care in Ireland. Subsequently, Budget 2022 and Budget 2023 included measures aimed at increasing the proportion of the population eligible for GP services without charge.  However, progress in implementing these proposals has been limited. Concern has been raised about the potential cost of such reforms and whether there are sufficient staff available within the system to deliver the increased demand that would be expected under a universal system.

In this analysis, the workforce and cost implications of introducing universal GP and community-based nurse care are estimated. The analysis assumes that in a universal primary care system all individuals would have eligibility for GP and community-based nurse care, which would both be free at the point of use.