“GP shortage past emergency point” – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he has written to Minister Simon Harris calling on the government to wake up to the emergency that has materialised in GP service provision that is keenly felt in many towns across the state.
Carthy recently met with Carrickmacross based GP, Shane Corr, where they discussed the immediate problems facing General Practitioner provision across many regional towns. According to Carthy this problem has been ten years in the making and is at breaking point due to the lack of action on the part of government.
Speaking this week Carthy said:
“Primary care services, including GP provision, is the corner stone of our health services. If they are not operating effectively then the entire heath service becomes dysfunctional. For over ten years the HSE and successive Ministers have been warned that a GP shortage has been building. It has now reached emergency point in several counties.
“GPs are operating under contracts devised over 50 years ago although their role has altered dramatically over that period. They are considered private operators when it suits government but public servants when cuts are implemented. This, coupled with other policy failures, has led to the situation where many GPs have found themselves overworked and has led to a severe shortage in new doctors entering the sector.
“The net result is that newcomers to many towns cannot get signed up to a GP while existing patients face lengthy waiting times to meet their local doctor. This in turn has forced people to go straight to out-of-hours or A & E departments putting additional burdens on those centres.
“The government acknowledges that there is currently a shortage of 150 GPs across the state. But, a further 700 are due to retire over the next five years.
“The government’s cavalier attitude towards GPs in their refusal to reverse cuts to primary care is crippling services.
“Their inaction in funding and supporting primary and community care is a death sentence to General Practice as well as Community Pharmacies.
“I have written to Minister Harris demanding that he wake up to the emergency that is already evident in many areas. As a first step, he needs to work on the unwinding of the FEMPI acts for primary care, review the current contracts regarding General Practices and provide increased funding for primary and community care.
“If the government were serious about implementing Sláintecare they would be investing in primary care. If they don’t intervene to address the immediate GP shortage then the entire health system will face a collapse beyond anything we’ve seen in the already overstretched structures”.