No Doctor No Village campaign to run GP candidate in election

Hundreds of people attended Co Clare meeting calling for more doctors

Dr Liam Glynn and FG TD Pat Breen at the No Doctor No Village campaign meeting in Corofin, Co Clare. Photograph: NAGP

Dr Liam Glynn and FG TD Pat Breen at the No Doctor No Village campaign meeting in Corofin, Co Clare. Photograph: NAGP

 

The No Doctor No Village campaign has confirmed it will run a Co Clare GP as a candidate in the upcoming general election.

The decision comes following a “disappointing” response from local TDs at the meeting in Corofin organised by the No Doctor No Village campaign last Thursday.

More than 450 people, including doctors from across the country, turned up to support rural GPs despite heavy rainfall and flooding.

Jerry Cowley, a Mayo GP who became an Independent TD in 2002 over his frustration at the standard of medical care in rural Ireland, shared his story with the packed hall.

Since the meeting, the group of GPs have decided to step-up their campaign. Dr Liam Glynn, who runs a practice in Co Clare and chaired the meeting, said the decision to run a candidate was made on Wednesday night in a bid to get GPs allowances restored, including the rural practice allowance that was once worth more than €20,000 a year.

“They were removed in 24 hours and they can be put back in 24 hours. All we’ve heard is rhetoric around this issue,” he said.

Dr Glynn said rural GPs are in decline and vacancies are not being filled as the income cuts made during austerity have made it difficult to run a viable business.

“If a local practice shuts down, the most vulnerable in society suffer. You’re not just losing a GP, but also an advocate,” he said.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) denied that the numbers of GPs in Ireland are falling. A spokesman said the HSE had 2,000 contracts with GPs in 2009 and in 2015 that had risen to 2,400.

However, Dr Glynn said the statistics do not show how many GPs are part-time. “The proof of the pudding is when a position comes up in rural Ireland, positions are advertised three and four times and no one applies for them,” Dr Glynn said.

Local Fine Gael TDs Pat Breen and Joe Carey insisted that pledges made by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to keep country GP practices open would be honoured.

A man in the audience responded: “These terms mean nothing: ‘in the coming weeks’, ‘going bloody forward’, ‘the next few weeks’. I’m a patient of Co Clare. We have the power of vote.”

The politicians were given a two-week deadline to deliver on the promises at the time.

“Since the meeting we’ve had such local support and indeed demands from our patients to see this through,” Dr Glynn said.

“If those supports are delivered, then of course we’ll consider our position if we feel they’ve been adequately met.”

Dr Glynn said the candidate chosen was a “stand out with strong reputation” in the community.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar told an IMO seminar this week the new proposals included a change to the rural practice allowance that it would apply to an area or a practice, instead of the individual GP.

“The effect of that would be to increase the number of GPs who qualify for the rural practice allowance from about 160 to 250 or so. It is something that will obviously be put in front of you, for your opinions on, and for your discussion in the time to come,” he said,

The campaign will announce the candidate’s name on January 19th in Corofin.

Co Clare previously caused electoral shock when Dr Moosajee Bhamjee was elected as a Labour TD in 1992.

The consultant psychiatrist became a national figure and served for five-years in the Dáil.