Mass exodus of young doctors from Ireland means Longford has only 0.81 of a GP for every 1,000 people

Cuts: Working in Ireland is extremely unattractive to prospective GPs, Medical Council report reveals

General Practitioners are working longer hours and seeing more clients, but spending less face-to-face time with patients due to ever-increasing pressures on GPs that have not joined the mass exodus out of the country, according to the National Association of General Practitioners.

A recent report by the Medical Council has revealed that almost 3,000 doctors stopped practicing in Ireland between 2015 and 2017 with less than one GP (0.81) per 1,000 people working in Longford in 2017.

Chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) GP Committee and Longford GP, Dr Padraig McGarry, has said that cuts that were imposed on GP resources approximately ten years ago have made working in Ireland extremely unattractive for many prospective GPs.

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“There were two main issues with that; the first is that GPs could not afford to take on an assissant or another GP to help with the practice,” said Dr McGarry.

“The second is that many prospective GPs were looking on and as a result decided that working as a GP in Ireland was not a viable option for them.”

But, he added, compared to the rest of the country, Longford is not too badly off with a total of 33 GPs in the county being on the upper end of the national scale.

But things are getting better, Dr McGarry added, as IMO is working with the HSE and the Department of Health to reverse the FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) cuts that were put in place in 2009.

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“We’ve agreed over the last couple of weeks that those cuts imposed will be reversed, hopefully starting in July,” he said.

“We’re hoping that this will stem the exodus and create an environment where younger GPs could look at it as a viable option to pursue in Ireland.”

As part or the reversal deal, IMO is also looking at introducing a new chronic disease programme, increasing the rural practice allowance for GPs in rural areas, and doubling the funding that will pay for a locum when female doctors are on maternity leave.

“The total package of the agreement will be €216m into General Practice in the next three years,” said Dr McGarry.

It is hoped that this package will stop young GPs leaving the country while also providing more opportunity for part-time GP work.

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