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Doctors call for appointment of 500 new GPs to address 'manpower crisis'

The National Association of General Practitioners says 150 practices around the country are at risk of closure due to funding shortages.

Image: american doctor via Shutterstock

THE CEO OF the National Association of General Practitioners is calling for the Government to support the appointment of 500 new GPs in order to bring Ireland into line with other developed countries.

Speaking in advance of the representative body’s AGM in Dublin, Chris Goodey said the move was needed to bring the country’s doctor-patient ratio up to the OECD average.

“As a matter of urgency the government needs to put the resourcing in place to support an increase in the number of GPs,” Goodey said.

He said that unless there were “significant reforms” to make General Practice attractive for new entrants to the profession “the current manpower crisis will lead to a collapse in the system of primary care”.

He said that in his address to the AGM he would send a “strong warning” to the Government parties that unless funding to the sector was increased “150 General Practices across every county in the country face the real risk of imminent closure”.

The organisation is also warning that the plan announced in the Budget to extend free GP cover to all children aged five and under will have a significant impact on other patients.

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According to spokesperson Dr Stephen Murphy:

If the 280,000 or so children under six who currently don’t have a medical card are given one, then there will be a huge increase in visits to GPs – thereby increasing the average GPs workload by 10 per cent or more – other patients will, of necessity – have to lose out or wait.

He warns that if the GP service is overwhelmed “it will have a serious follow-on impact on the rest of the health service with disastrous results”.

The one-day AGM takes place in the Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge. The keynote speaker is Dr Edward Walsh, founding President of the National University of Limerick. There are also one-on-one forums covering legal and tax advice, and a workshop by credit management specialist Declan Flood on ‘Getting Paid’.

Related: Health Budget measures could have “dangerous and unintended” consequences, GPs warn

Read: €666 million adjustment “toughest challenge I’ve had to face yet” — Reilly

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Daragh Brophy

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