GPs and emergency departments

Sir, – There have been three informed responses from hospital-based doctors in your letters pages (February 25thand 26th, March 2nd) to the article claiming unacceptably high Irish hospital 24-hour admission rates via emergency departments (News, February 24th).

Nobody has dealt with the claim quoted in the article that “out-of-hours GP services are very poor”. This suggests that emergency departments nationally are experiencing an avalanche of workload due to general practice under-performance in the community.

The English NHS provides very reliable data on emergency department attendance rates. The Irish emergency department attendance rates are published in the Department of Health annual report Health in Ireland: Key Trends 2018. If the two figures are compared, it suggests that the national NHS English emergency department attendance rate per head of population is over 50 per cent higher than the Irish emergency department attendance rates.

Some of the difference could be explained by an increased private service in Ireland compared to the UK. But to balance that, Irish emergency department attendances are counted if the patient registers at reception, whether they waited for medical care or not, thus inflating the Irish attendance rate statistics.


This suggest that currently Irish general practice is significantly overperforming compared to the equivalent English service. – Yours, etc,


General Practitioner,


Dublin 12.