February 6, 2024
Rural GP shortages driven by Government failures to listen and plan – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said chronic shortages in General Practice, as reported following a study by the Irish Independent, have been persistent and worsening over the last five years.

Teachta Cullinane said GPs have been warning of long waiting times and unplanned collapse of services, but that Government has failed to listen.

The Waterford TD said Government should put in place directly hired GPs to cover disadvantaged areas and provide cover for vacancies and absences in understaffed practices, as proposed in Sinn Féin’s alternative budget.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“General practice has been under severe pressure for several years.  Government has failed to listen to GPs and frontline primary care workers who have been warning of unacceptable waiting times and unplanned collapse of services. 

“Sinn Féin has set out our proposals for General Practice and Primary Care year after year in our Alternative Budgets.  

“In the short-term, public GPs should be recruited to target the areas of highest need and to cover vacancies and absences in understaffed practices. The Government must immediately develop a directly hired GP contract. 

“Additional primary care staffing supports, such as public health and practice nurses, are needed to take pressure off GPs.  Additional services, under a minor ailments scheme, should also be placed in pharmacies as a first port-of-call for minor illnesses.

“In the longer term, Government must ratchet up training places and commence significant investment in GP and wider primary care services. 

“We need a 21st century GP contract with modern staffing arrangements and supports. Additional supports are needed, such as directly provided public services, in underserved rural and disadvantaged communities where GP retention is a major issue.

“The declining access to GP services has been persistent and worsening. Government has allowed the situation to deteriorate through inaction. 

“While welcome, the Strategic Review of General Practice was started far too late in the day.  The Government should not wait for its conclusion before taking action.”

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