ASSURANCES have been made to local TDs that interim measures are being agreed following the news that Ashdale Centre in Blarney is to lose its only GP at the end of December.
Speaking to The Echo, Fianna Fáil TD Pádraig O’Sullivan, who raised the issue in the Dáil yesterday, said local TDs received calls on Tuesday from the HSE’s Michael Moriarty detailing that “interim measures were agreed and that all patients would be notified by Friday in writing of those arrangements”.
He assured TDs medical card holders would be diverted to another GP, within 8km of Blarney, and where possible, private patients would need to try and source care elsewhere until such time as a new appointment is made and that the process to advertise the post has begun.
In response to Mr O’Sullivan, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed that where a GP vacancy arises in a practice with a General Medical Services (GMS) contract, the HSE becomes involved in the recruitment of a replacement GP.
“At the start of November, there were 27 GP GMS vacancies, approximately 1% of GMS GP panels. Thirteen of the 27 vacancies were in rural areas and 14 were in urban areas.
“In relation to the expected GMS vacancy concerned, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) have advised that they are aware of the upcoming vacancy and are taking appropriate steps.
“Engagement is ongoing with local providers, and an interim service is being planned to ensure continuity of services for the cardholders concerned from January 1 while the campaign to recruit a replacement GP is ongoing.
“Once interim arrangements are finalised the HSE will contact cardholders and inform them of the particulars of this arrangement.
“The HSE will contact cardholders again when a replacement GP is in place.”
Mr Donnelly made assurances that affected medical card and GP visit card holders in the Blarney area will be contacted by the HSE when the arrangements are finalised and will be contacted again when the new permanent GP is in place.
He said the Government recognises the high demand for GP services.
Mr Donnelly added that the number of doctors entering GP training has more than doubled in recent years, from 120 in 2009 to 258 in 2022, and that a strategic review of GP services is due to commence shortly and is to be completed in a relatively short time frame.