Fianna Fáil bye-election candidate for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has said the Government’s failure to act on the escalating crisis in GP recruitment is undermining the primary healthcare service in rural communities across Carlow and Kilkenny.
Mr Aylward has called on the Government to immediately re-examine the supports available to GPs looking to start up surgeries. More than a third of GP’s in Carlow are aged over 60 and will be eligible to retire over the next few years.
“GPs are warning that many rural communities in Carlow and Kilkenny are facing the prospect of having no access to local based primary care services. This is a growing crisis across rural Ireland that the Government has allowed to develop by slashing supports for GPs and removing vital resources that form the very basis of primary based healthcare.
“We cannot allow a situation arise where rural communities in Carlow and Kilkenny are left without any access to a local GP. It’s proving impossible to recruit GPs to certain rural communities due to increasing operating costs and dramatic cuts to grants used to support surgeries.
“Rural Ireland has already suffered enough under this Government. Garda stations have been closed, post offices removed and communities left abandoned. We do not need to add healthcare to that list.
“Currently it does not make financial sense for any qualified GP to set up a practice in many rural communities. The result is that when the local GP retires, the HSE is having severe difficulties recruiting a replacement.
“Just this week alone GPs in Carlow have been warning that many of their colleagues will be eligible to retire in the next few years. More than a third of GPs in Carlow are already aged over 60. Many communities are effectively being told by the Government that they will be left with just sporadic local cover at best, or without any Doctor at all.
“Having access to a local primary health service is not a luxury, it’s a basic human need in any modern society. However Fine Gael and Labour seem content in allowing the degrading of our frontline community health service.
“The Government needs to wake up and realise that we should be investing more in primary care to take pressure off an already overstretched hospital system. If rural GP practices close in Carlow and Kilkenny it will push our hospitals over the brink. If elected I will make it a top priority to ensure that every community in Carlow and Kilkenny has access to a local based GP” said Mr Aylward.