Varadkar disappointed at rejection of rural GP proposals

Dr Pádraig McGarry says €160m has been taken from rural GP services in recent years

 Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he is disappointed at the rejection by GPs of Government proposals to deal with a shortage of GPs in rural areas. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he is disappointed at the rejection by GPs of Government proposals to deal with a shortage of GPs in rural areas. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is disappointed at the rejection by the Irish Medical Organisation of proposals to encourage more GPs to work in rural practices.

The IMO rejected the revised supports following a meeting with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health on Wednesday night.

It said the proposals did not address the current shortage of GPs in some rural areas. The IMO said negotiations on the issue, which have being ongoing since last August, would continue.

A spokesman for the Minister said the proposals would have increased in the number of rural practices receiving special allowances by almost 100.

Dr Pádraig McGarry, chairman of the IMO’s GP committee, said the plan was insufficient to deal with the current crisis and the union had put forward “realistic solutions” to retain doctors in rural areas.

“General practice around the country has suffered draconian cuts in recent years with over €160 million being taken out of the service. There are significant problems in rural areas,” he said.

The HSE has previously denied that the number of GPs in Ireland was in decline.

A spokesman said the number of contracts the HSE had with GPs increased by 400 in the last six years.

The Government proposals came after a number of counties held public meetings to discuss ways to retain local GP services.

The “No Doctor, No Village” campaign in Co Clare said Dr Michael Harty planned to run in the upcoming general election to fight for GP supports and rural services.

Dr Harty said groups in Galway and Mayo were also considering nominating a candidate.