19 March 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher (Cork North Central) has said the Government’s failure to act on the escalating crisis in GP recruitment has left more than 30 rural communities without a vital primary healthcare service.
Deputy Kelleher has called on the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to immediately re-examine the supports available to GPs starting up surgeries.
“We cannot continue to accept a situation where dozens of rural communities are left without any access to a local GP. It’s proving impossible to recruit GPs to these areas due to the increasing operating costs and the dramatic cuts to income. Something needs to give,” said Deputy Kelleher.
“The bottom line is that it does not make financial sense for any qualified GP to set up a practice in many rural communities. The result is that when the local GP retires, the HSE is having severe difficulties recruiting a replacement. Communities that have been served by a local GP for decades are now left with sporadic locum cover at best, or without any local Doctor at all.
“This is another major step back for rural Ireland. Having access to a local primary health service is not a luxury, it’s a basic human need in any modern society. These are dangerous gaps in our most basic, frontline community health service. And they are emerging at a time when we are supposed to be investing in and promoting primary care in order to reduce the burden on our already overburdened acute hospital system.
“This crisis has been emerging for some time now and yet the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and his predecessor James Reilly have just washed their hands of it. Unless this situation is addressed as a matter of priority, more and more communities will lose their local GP surgery in the coming months and years. I am urging Minister Varadkar to start engaging on this matter urgently. It is his responsibility to ensure that not one community is left without access to a local GP.”