Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen TD says he has serious concerns regarding the decision taken by the HSE to close the Midoc clinics located in Birr and Edenderry.

The HSE recently issued a shock statement which confirmed that the Birr and Edenderry clinics would close leaving just one clinic in Tullamore to cater for the entire population of Offaly.

Deputy Cowen said, “This news has come as a surprise to many people. The Midoc service was scaled back over Christmas which saw access to the Birr and Edenderry clinics restricted. However it was believed that this was only a temporary measure but now it transpires that the HSE were laying the groundwork for imposing a permanent cutback on out of hours GP services in Offaly.

“It’s worrying that the entire county of Offaly is now set to be covered by just one clinic based in Tullamore. The HSE have said that additional resources will be put in place to cater for GP house calls. However house calls are not routinely carried out by GP’s. Patients are requested to attend a clinic unless they are suffering from a serious ailment. I’m seriously concerned that patients who would ordinarily have had to attend the Birr or Edenderry clinic will not be forced to travel to Tullamore to access a GP outside of normal surgery hours.

“Similar cutbacks to those being imposed on Midoc have occurred elsewhere in recent years, such as those implemented in Shannondoc. In those cases the cutbacks led to a permanent reduction in the GP service available to patients. The Government should be focusing on growing primary care services instead of cutting back on them. Countless reports have shown that the key to solving the hospital overcrowding crisis is to invest in GP services. Yet here we are in 2018, with the HSE proposing to cut back on GP services.

“I’m seeking a meeting with HSE management to discuss this service reduction. I will also be raising the issue directly with Minister for Health Simon Harris. If additional funding is needed to help Midoc respond to growing demand then this should be considered. I will be working with Fianna Fáil Cllr’s Noel Bourke, Eddie Fitzpatrick, Peter Ormond Eamon Dooley on this issue. We will be seeking a joint meeting with HSE management at the earliest opportunity,” concluded Deputy Cowen.