GPs and abortion services

 

Sir, – It is intensely frustrating and depressing to see the attitude of Minister for Health Simon Harris to the provision of abortion services. The people voted to remove the Eighth Amendment.

They did not, however, vote to bully GPs into providing an additional service through general practice, which has been decimated by austerity cuts and also by an ever-increasing struggle to provide a good service to patients.

Many GPs simply do not believe it is possible to add this service, as they struggle daily to cope with the volume of work, and the lack of resources in terms of hospital support.

The Minister is looking for care and compassion towards patients with a crisis pregnancy, and of course, they should indeed receive that.

But what about the elderly people I see week after week with severe arthritis? The first thing I have to explain to them, with as much compassion as I can, is that they must wait at least three years to see an orthopaedic surgeon, and after that a likely two more years, if they are lucky, before they have the necessary surgery. In the meantime we must manage their pain as best we can, while they despair at the suffering and loss of independence that occurs.

If a patient comes to see me and they need an ultrasound scan for a possible malignancy, I must explain to them that the waiting time is a minimum of nine months in my area.

So while the Minister is busy berating GPs and insisting he can provide abortion services in six months, could he possibly feel some outrage on behalf of the many other people who are let down day after day by the health service he is in charge of?

Surely the elderly and other sick patients are entitled to some of the urgency and compassion the Minister is demonstrating towards the issue of crisis pregnancy.

It seems the Minister’s sense of compassion is quite selective. – Yours, etc,

Dr CLAIRE GAUGHRAN,

(General Practitioner),

Carrigaline,

Co Cork.

Sir, – Now that we know that GPs have agreed to demand an “opt-in” approach to providing abortions, should the Government make it a requirement to have prominently displayed on GPs’ websites and waiting rooms that their practice does or does not facilitate the termination of a pregnancy?

This is very important information for a woman to have when choosing her medical practitioner. – Yours, etc,

LULU CLEARY,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.