Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has secured a commitment from regional HSE management that the health service will take the circumstances of individual patients into account when assigning them to a new GP. The commitment was given to the Sinn Féin representative at a meeting of the HSE Regional Forum at which McGuinness had secured cross-party support for a motion on the issue.
“My motion called on the HSE to ‘have regard to the specific medical need, geographic location, and/or mobility issues of individual patients when assigning them to a new GP’, and was tabled in response to the situation locally where patients in Dungarvan found themselves assigned to a GP in another town, with no regard to their ability to travel, their ongoing needs, or their medical conditions.
“The situation in Co. Waterford is part of a wider crisis in general practice, where the shortage of doctors is causing chaos for tens of thousands of patients. There is shortage of GPs across the state many practices are under severe pressure. It is proving impossible to fill vacancies when GPs retire or move away
The Irish College of General Practice has referred to a ‘severe shortage’, with 1,600 doctors required to cover current shortages, and an additional 500 to cover projected shortages due to retirement. At present Ireland is only training some 230 doctors per year and not all of these will enter general practice. The response of the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition is to bury their heads in the sand.
The commitment given by the HSE on foot of my motion won’t solve the crisis, but it will ensure that the needs of patients are taken into account the next time a situation arises where a GP retires or moves abroad. The outlook provided by the Irish College of General Practice shows that this will become a more frequent occurrence in the years ahead.
“My colleague David Cullinane has raised the crisis in general practice with the Minister for Health on the floor of the Dáil and has outlined what a Sinn Féin government would do to address the crisis. We need action to expand GP and primary care services now, to increase capacity in doctor training, and to explore the option of directly hired GPs where necessary. David and I will continue to work together to ease the impacts of the crisis on patients across Dungarvan and West Waterford.”