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Dr Michael Harty, is to raise the Shannondoc cutbacks at this week's session of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. Photograph by John Kelly.

HSE accused of failing to plan for GP crisis

Clare Deputy Dr Michael Harty has pledged to raise the Shannondoc cutbacks in the county at this week’s session of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.

Dr Harty has acknowledged the changes to the Shannondoc out-of-hours services in Kilrush, Ennistymon and Killaloe are a reduction to the medical cover for patients.

He claimed these changes are another manifestation of the mismanagement of the health service and highlighted the failure of the HSE to anticipate and plan for the medical manpower crisis which faces general practice and the wider health service.

He said all out-of-hours services are experiencing difficulty in finding locums to supplement local GP rosters.

“The working commitment and conditions of service required to work in single handed rural practice are too onerous. Consequently, GP positions are not being filled when they become vacant. The contract underpinning these working conditions is in need of urgent review and renegotiation.

“Newly qualified GPs and established GPs are emigrating to work in health services which give better working conditions, career development and normal working hours. Other established GPs are retiring early due to the overwhelming pressure of running a general practice.

“Foreign locum GPs have many new barriers and requirements placed in their way, making working in Ireland very difficult. Immigration regulations only allow visas for periods of 90 days work. Foreign locums can find work much more easily in other countries.

“Unless these issues are addressed urgently, the existence of general practice as we know it will be threatened with further consequences for out-of-hours services,” he said.

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