Fianna Fáil Dublin Rathdown Constituency Representative, Justin McAleese has said it is urgent that the Government’s reversal of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) is extended over time to include General Practitioners, who have been exempt from the process to date.

FEMPI is currently being reversed across the public sector and in the public health service but GP’s are expected to continue to provide care in communities across Ireland despite having suffered funding cuts of close to 40% under the measures.

He commented, “GP services in Dublin have reached such a boiling point that some practices are turning away new patients and existing patients cannot get appointments in a timely manner.

“This results in patients who should be treated early in the primary care environment not receiving appropriate care, their condition worsening and then they must present in already over-crowded and under-resourced emergency departments.

“By the HSE’s own estimate, Ireland is facing a shortage of between 493 and 1,380 GPs by 2025 unless immediate steps are taken to address the shortfall.

“According to the Irish College of General Practitioners, 36% of GPs in Ireland are aged 55 years or older – this fact alone means that we are facing into significant manpower shortages in the immediate future.

“These problems are only going to get worse as we have an ageing population who will require greater levels of primary care from their GPs and increased treatment in emergency departments.

These kinds of working conditions, on top of the issues around FEMPI, deter young Irish GPs from pursuing a career in Ireland. As general practitioner, Dr. Catherine O’Donoghue put it last month – “FEMPI is the elephant in the room for Irish general practice”.

“We need immediate steps to be taken to address these unattractive working conditions and to ensure we retain young Irish GPs in Ireland and encourage as many of those as possible who’ve left to return. The lack of adequate GP services gives rise to inequality of care and impacts negatively on our emergency departments.

“We will be discussing some of these issues this Wednesday, April 25th with a number of speakers including the newly elected President of the National Association of GPs, Dr. Maitiu O’Tuathail who is himself a young GP.”