I must drive 90 minutes just to get my child to a GP

I must drive 90 minutes just to get my child to a GP
Emma Burke at her home in Youghal with her sons Billy and Fionn O'Connell.Picture: David Keane.

A CORK family has been struggling to find a GP for the past 18 months because patient lists are currently full.

Emma Burke moved to Youghal from Grenagh with her two children, aged three and four, in October 2017.

She said no GP will take her family on their books and that SouthDoc is now their only option.

“There are four GP practices in the town, with three or four doctors in each office,” explained Ms Burke.

“They won’t even put me on a list.

“They just say ‘no, we’re full’ and that’s it,” she added.

“I tried Ardmore as well and can’t get on a list there because I’m outside the area.

“We were living in Grenagh and we have a GP there but it’s an hour and a half away so it’s just not practical,” said Ms Burke.

“If one of the kids is sick during the day, it’s a struggle to get them to Grenagh.

“I was trying to get a GP even before I moved in October 2017,” she explained.

“I knew in September that I was moving so I was calling around then but had no luck.

“I kept trying but it was impossible. Last Tuesday, my son started feeling sick at around 4pm so I had the choice of driving to Grenagh and trying to make it before the practice closed at 5pm, which would’ve been impossible, or waiting for SouthDoc to open.

“I tried to get him through the night so we could go to Grenagh the next day but we ended up in SouthDoc at 2am.

“If we had a GP in Youghal, we could’ve gone there.

“SouthDoc in Midleton ends up being the solution. We’re lucky because none of us has any real illnesses but if we had, we’d be in real danger.” 

The Echo revealed one year ago that two national and international recruitment campaigns for a GP position in Youghal received no applications, following the retirement of a GP in the area.

The GP dealt with 374 GMS patients in Youghal, which were to be divided equally among other GPs in the area, according to the HSE.

The HSE noted in March last year there are “difficulties currently being experienced in recruiting GPs in many areas, particularly in rural areas.” 

The total number of General Medical Services patients in Youghal is 5,686, with panels from 1,468 to 435 per GP.

The Echo reported in October last year that GPs were considering closing their appointments lists, citing health and safety concerns.

President of the National Association of General Practitioners, Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail, said:

"The inability to see a GP is now rapidly becoming the norm in Ireland, and this is an absolute tragedy.

“There were 26 communities without a GP in Ireland in February, and this has grown by a further 3 so far in March alone."

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