Independent TD Mattie McGrath will today challenge the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to immediately clarify the steps he is taking to address the ongoing crisis in rural GP Practice. Deputy McGrath was speaking ahead of a Dáil Topical Issue Debate that he requested on foot of a report in today’s Irish Independent that shows 666 GPs are currently over the age of 60, including 244 over 65:
“I have been warning the Minister, and his predecessor, Taoiseach Varadkar, about the impending crisis in rural GP Practice for the last number of years.
We are now even closer to the cliff edge, where the viability of GP services in significant areas of the country are at stake.
Today’s report is stark and deeply worrying. It shows that Cavan, Clare, Dublin, Kerry, Offaly, Tipperary, Cork and Wexford all stand to lose at least 25pc of GP’s in the next 7 years.
That is a crisis by any definition of the term.
One frustrating aspect of this saga is that the government could immediately address some of the burnout issues that are confronting a significant number of GP’s by reviewing the implementation of the Free-Under 6 GP Scheme.
As I understand it, since the implementation of Scheme, attendance at some practices has increased by up to 40 per cent.
This is clearly impacting the decision of GP’s not to remain in practice.
Rural Ireland, as per the norm, will be hardest hit by the levels of GP retirements coming down the line.
Minister Harris and the HSE have to address this issue as a matter of priority, not least because if people do not have access to local GP services then they will inevitably turn up at A&E departments which are already chronically over crowded,” concluded Deputy McGrath.