A chara, – The recent death of a colleague has brought home the vulnerability of rural family doctors with regard to locum cover and other practice supports. The current situation is that if a family doctor is taken ill the responsibility for their replacement falls with them, regardless of how sick they are. I am aware of colleagues trying to arrange locum cover from their hospital beds.
Other countries, such as Australia, provide locums to cover holidays and sickness to encourage doctors to locate themselves in rural communities.
Without such initiatives being included in the current contract negotiations for a new GMS contract, rural practice will remain in difficulty.
The strength of public support, seen recently in Clare and in the No Doctor, No Village campaign, highlights how much rural patients value their local service. It would appear odd that, in the face of a general election, the Government parties do not appear to share the concerns of their constituents or to be concerned by the prospect of GP candidates in the same election.
It is to be hoped that the Government’s commitment to developing primary care centres in urban areas is not to be at the expense of rural services. – Is mise,