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Body claims half of GP practices are in debt

The National Association of General Practitioners has said that "General Practice is dying”.

It comes as its members will drive a cavalcade of cars to Dáil Éireann alongside hundreds of GPs at around 2pm tomorrow in protest at cuts to the sector.

Dr Andrew Jordan NAGP Chairman, said: "50% of GP practices are in debt trying to keep going.

"There are now entire communities where GPs have retired and not been replaced - there are not enough GPs to handle the demand. Young, newly trained GPs are emigrating and there is no one to replace older GPs.

"General Practice in Ireland is literally dying because it is not being properly resourced. Government funding for primary care was cut in 2010 (FEMPI) and never restored."

He added that tomorrow's protest "is the only way we can highlight to the Government that General Practice is dying”.

He went on to say that evidence shows that the family doctor system is the most efficient, safe and effective way of providing healthcare.

"This is part of the Government’s stated strategy for healthcare, with joined-up services between General Practice, primary care services in the community and secondary care in hospitals. And yet the Government is not acting to enable this strategy. This is inexplicable."

Dr Maitiú O Tuathail, NAGP President, said: “There are currently 26 communities without General Practitioners across this country. With 700 GPs about to retire in the next four to five years, and newly qualified GPs choosing Dubai over Dublin, many more communities will be left without a GP.

"The neglect of General Practice by this Government will lead to its extinction."

“The people of Ireland must carefully consider how they will vote come election time if they want their families to continue to have GPs into the future.

“Patients cannot get GP appointments. GPs cannot get adequate funding for nursing staff, administrative staff and for simple diagnostic tools which enable patients to be treated rapidly in the community.”

Dr Jordan said 2010's FEMPI cuts must be restored and the Government must establish a continued program of investment in General Practice and primary care over the next 10 years.