CONCERNS have been raised over the difficulties people in Macroom face when accessing GP services.
It’s claimed that a range of local issues are making it more difficult for people in the area to access services than anywhere else in the country.
Deputy Aindrias Moynihan raised the issue with the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, in the Dáil, where he has called for the situation to be tackled.
He claims new patients are being refused appointments because GPs in the area are overloaded.
“They will often have to stay with their existing GP who could be many miles away in Killarney, Mallow, Ballincollig or anywhere up the country if they have moved to Macroom,” he said. “I will give the Minister of State an example of a lady who travels to and from Kildare every month where she had her GP service until now.
“That does not make sense. It needs to be tackled.”
Deputy Moynihan also highlighted the out of hours rota in the area.
“A Macroom doctor is expected to be on call four times more often at night and at weekends than a colleague in Cork,” he said.
GPs are expected to cover one in seven nights, while their counterparts in Cork work on a rota of one in 31.
He claims the situation came to a head recently, with a post for a GP being advertised following a retirement. However, only one person came forward for the first round. Following more recent advertising, no interest was expressed in the position.
“It is quite possible that it could go on being advertised for some time before a GP will come forward,” Deputy Moynihan said.
Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath said he understood the significant demand on GPs and out of hours services in Macroom.
He agrees the retirement of a single-handed GP added to problems.
“The panel has been advertised on two occasions but has not been filled. It is currently being advertised again, both in Ireland and internationally,” he said.
“A locum GP is in place since the 16th of September and is providing services to general medical services, scheme and private patients. All other practice staff - the nurse and the secretary - remain in place, funded by the HSE. A locum doctor will continue to be funded until the post is filled,” he added.