Tipperary TD, Jackie Cahill has said that unless the crisis in GP provision across the county is addressed, the problems affecting the health care system will continue.
Deputy Cahill was commenting after he spoke in the Dáil about the need for the HSE to redouble its efforts to secure GP services around the country.
“The local GP is the first port of call for a person who is sick and in need of medical care. If there aren’t enough of them on the ground, of course we are going to see overcrowding in our Emergency Departments.
“Over the past number of weeks, I have been engaging with a number of GPs to find a solution to why so few doctors want to work as GPs, and why those that do, don’t want to work in rural counties such as Tipperary.
“GPs get a rough deal from the HSE. Unlike doctors working in hospitals, they are self-employed, and receive a pension only a fraction of what is available to hospital doctors.
“The contract a GP signs with the HSE commits them to providing 24/7 cover. However, GPs in rural practices, in order to meet this commitment, must contribute to the running costs of out of hours services.
“For example, north Tipperary doctors must contribute towards ShannonDoc yet doctors in Dublin have these costs paid for them.
“If we are to entice GPs to open surgeries in Tipperary, there needs to be a level playing field.
“Finding cover for GPs is next to impossible, quite simply there aren’t enough people becoming doctors. More places are needed in medical schools such as in UL.
“When GPs do secure the services of a locum doctor, especially ones from overseas, the taxation system penalises them. Without addressing the valid concerns of GPs, the often mooted transformation of the health system into one that is centred on the provision of primary care, will never happen,” he concluded.