‘It’s infuriating’ - Patients describe waiting days for GP appointments

IMO has warned of a severe doctor shortage that will only get worse

Doctors have warned that the health service is in the grip of a severe shortages of GPs increasing the workload on the existing ones and creating frustrations for patients.

Incoming Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) president Dr John Cannon said at least 10 per cent of the population is unable to sign up with a GP because their patients list are at capacity.

An Oireachtas committee heard in December that changes to access would inevitably cause further waits for routine appointments.

We asked patients and doctors about their experiences with GP services.


Anne Kennedy from Co Dublin, a woman in her seventies, said she has failed to get GP appointments four times in the last two years. She was obliged to use a VHI clinic on two occasions at a cost to herself as a pensioner. “I appreciate that GP practices are under pressure but failure to see patients in a timely manner is unacceptable,” she said.

Sinead Tobin from Co Wexford said her GP surgery has five doctors. Ms Tobin has a preferred doctor there. When she asked for an appointment with that doctor in March, she was told none was available until the end of May.

“My mother-in-law is worse. Her doctor is at least a three months wait. Receptionists has the cheek to laugh when she rings to make an appointment. No wonder people are going to care doc ad the emergency appointment.”

Paul Darcy who lives in Skerries said he used to be able to get an appointment within 24 hours, but now it takes a week to 10 days to get an appointment since it was taken over by a company called Your Medical Services.

“I have to pay for a D-Doc appointment which I can get within a day and then another appointment with my doctor a week later because D-Doc doesn’t sent samples off to the lab for testing. It’s infuriating but all other doctors in the town either have a two year waiting list of they’re not accessible to wheelchair users,” he said.

Nancy Ackland from Cork said she spent five days waiting for a GP appointment to get antibiotics for an infected finger. “No wonder A&Es are full.”

Darren Kelly from Kildare said he was waiting three weeks for an appointment and had to go to A&E to get treated for tonsillitis.

One patient in Limerick, who wished to remain anonymous, said he looked for a doctor’s appointment at his GP surgery on April 3rd and was told no date was available until April 18th.

A woman called “Lisa O” said it is almost impossible to get appointments when you need them. “Any time I rang in the past they had no appointments available for a week. It’s almost as if you are to be psychic and forecast when you will be sick in order to get one.”

A Galway-based GP Dr Abdullah Afghan said many routine presentations are going to out-of-hours services because they can’t get appointments leading to a “significant higher workload, longer patient wait and angry patients at the end.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times