Doctors becoming extinct in rural communities, meeting told

‘No Doctor, No Village’ campaign launched in Clare to save GP services across the country

Representatives from the Irish Medical Organisation spoke at the meeting to highlight  GP issues nationwide

Representatives from the Irish Medical Organisation spoke at the meeting to highlight GP issues nationwide

 

Communities struggle to survive when their GP services are taken away, a meeting to save doctor services across the country heard last night.

Local TDs, councillors and GPs from different counties spoke at the crisis public meeting of more than 200 people in Corofin, Co Clare, last night.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) both had representatives speaking to highlight GP issues nationwide.

This was the second meeting organised by a group of Clare doctors who have launched a campaign called “No Doctor, No Village”, seeking to have resources cut during the austerity years reinstated.

Many of the crowd discussed the worry of more villages ending up without a doctor, such as the community of Feakle in Co Clare.

Dr Liam Glynn, a GP in Ballyvaughan, who chaired the meeting and is one of the doctors who organised the campaign, said about 30 communities had no full-time GP or had a locum service.

“There is a big difference between having a locum coming and going, and a permanent full-time GP that knows each patient very well,” he said.

‘Deplorable’

“The main problem is we’re looking at the dismantling and extinction of GPs in rural communities,” he said.

Dr Glynn said restoring a number of specific schemes, such as the rural practice allowance that can be worth up to €16,500, would help the crisis.

“It makes a difference to having no applicants for a vacant post to some applicants,” he said.

Dr Glynn said similar public meetings in Kerry, Cork, Mayo, Galway and Wexford would take place in the coming weeks to discuss action to save their GP services.

“We will no longer be silent. We’re not prepared to see communities lose their GPs any more. It’s not acceptable or fair to people,” he said.

Hopes have risen that a resolution could be found after the HSE reinstated the allowances for a readvertised GP post in Bansha, Co Tipperary, that originally attracted no applicants.

The Tipperary village had strongly canvassed local politicians and the Government to save their GP late last year.

Although campaigners have said rural GP numbers are falling, the HSE argues the numbers have risen from 2,000 in 2009 to 2,400 last year.

The IMO has previously warned that more than one GP in five is over 60, with a large number of retirements due in the next few years.

The NAGP said 915 GPs are expected to retire or emigrate in the next three to five years.

Dr Conor McGee, president of the NAGP and a GP trainer, said young GPs do not see a way of earning a living in Ireland.