Sinn Féin Deputy Imelda Munster.
Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has described the chronic shortage of GPs in Louth and East Meath as unacceptable and unsafe and has called on the Minister for Health to urgently address the situation.
Deputy Munster said that his is one of the problems that is raised at her constituency clinic every week without fail. She said that this week she had a constituent who had tried to register with 10 GPs in the locality, and was refused by every single one. She is registered with a GP in another country, but lives in Louth.
“In addition to being denied GP care, people like the case above are also excluded from accessing the services of the North East Doctor on Call (NEDOC), as being registered with a GP in the North East is a pre-requisite for that scheme" Deputy Munster said.
“This is potentially a dangerous situation, where people are without any GP care in their local area.
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“These patients can’t even attend a medical assessment unit (MAU) as a GP referral is required to use that service.
“It leaves people with no choice but than to attend the accident and emergency department when it is not appropriate. This is adding to overcrowding and lengthy waiting times, and is frankly a waste of resources.
“This government needs to recognise that huge numbers of people have moved to Louth and East Meath in the last 10 to 15 years. Many are still registered with their GPs in other counties.
“Government have seen this problem unfolding and they haven’t taken steps to ensure that areas that have seen significant population growth like Louth and Meath have adequate GP and primary care facilities.
“The ICGP, the professional body for general practice in Ireland, have estimated that over 700 GPs will retire in the next five years. The pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic and unsustainable workloads are pushing many GPs to retire earlier than they may have planned.
“This is a public health concern, and the government needs to outline the steps they intend to take to rectify it as a matter of urgency.”