A recent article based on a survey by Julie MacNamara has brought up the issue of General Practitioners'(GP) shortage to the public's attention.
Despite a significant increase in population in Ireland, the number of GPs has been declining due to a variety of reasons, and to date no plans are in place to address this issue.
With an increase in the number of patients per GP, there is a significant increase in the workload for GPs who accept the GMS card.
Such an increase in work load effect the timely provision of medical care, leading to patients' dissatisfaction (as expressed by many in public) and adversely impact health, especially when chronic diseases are on the rise.
While we are waiting for the plans to improve the future number of GPs, I would like to make certain suggestions, which might improve patient care in the short term, such as maximising the utility of private GPs.
At present a significant proportion of private GPs are working for more than ten years and their experience has been recognised by the ICGP.
These private GPs already provide combined child and maternal health, vaccination, and care of methadone dependent patients.
If such GPs are allowed to take care of patients with free medical services (patients younger than 6-years and older than 70) as well as patients with a GP visit card, the workload of GPs who cover all patients, including the one with the GMS card will be reduced, with sustained provision of quality care in a timely fashion.
Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed
Kilminchy Medical Centre