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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 15 November, 2019

Doctors warn patients: Expect long waiting times to see your GP

Doctors say government cuts will lead to the ‘normalisation’ of long waiting times. “This move is not only mean-spirited, it is stupid,” said one GP.

File photo
File photo
Image: People waiting to see a doctor via Shutterstock

DOCTORS HAVE WARNED that patients should expect long waiting lists to see a GP in the coming months as government cuts take full effect.

The Irish Medical Organisation says planned government cuts to GPs fees and allowances may lead to the ‘normalisation’ of people having to wait several days before they can get an appointment with their local doctor.

“This move is not only mean-spirited, it is stupid,” said Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley.

The government has reduced or eliminated a number of fees paid to GPs for seeing medical card patients and giving the influenza vaccine, among other things. The range of measures has been estimated to reduce State fees to GPs by 7.5 per cent over all.

The IMO warned that GP practices have had their resources slashed by more than €150 million by a series of cuts in recent years.

Dr Walley, who is also the head of the IMO’s GP committee said the cuts, which come into force later this year, were “a massive nail in the coffin for our traditional GP services.”

“Tragically patient services will be impacted,” he said. “I believe we will see the normalisation of long waiting times to see your local GP like they have in the UK.”

Dr Walley said GP services are at “crisis point” and said he couldn’t understand why Minister for Health James Reilly was implementing the cuts.

“Rather than resourcing GP services properly to do more work, the Government is forcing through cuts which will force GPs to reduce the amount of work they can do,” he said. “This will lead, in turn to further pressure on hospitals around the country.”

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