Minister must intervene to secure the future of South Doc services – Murphy O’Mahony

Published on: 07 August 2019

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, has called on the Minister for Health to work with the Minister for Justice to ensure that SouthDoc can recruit doctors. As it stands the ability to hire non-EEA doctors is being hampered by the current work permit scheme problems.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony also called on the Minster for Health to engage with SouthDoc on their request for additional funding to maintain its level of service.

She explained, “In Cork South West, South Doc provides four clinics in Bandon, Clonakilty, Skibbereen, and Bantry. In Bandon and Bantry they provide an overnight service while in Clonakilty and Skibbereen the service is available up to 11pm.

“These four clinics give a huge amount of reassurance and comfort to the people of Cork South West who would otherwise have to travel long distances, on substandard roads, to access vital healthcare.

“Reducing the number of centres or amalgamating services will seriously undermine people’s confidence in their ability to access emergency healthcare in an expedient manner. We’re talking about very rural areas where public transport is non-existent.

“There are glaring anomalies with the current work permit scheme for non-EEA doctors. The current work permit scheme, overseen by the Department of Justice, allows overseas GPs who are registered with the Medical Council to enter the country for 90 days.

“Once the 90 days have expired, the GP must leave and cannot apply for a new permit until after a 30 day “cooling off” period. It can take up to 30 days to process the new permit, meaning the GP cannot work for 60 days – it makes no sense.

“You would think the country was awash with medical professionals, not in the midst of a severe doctor shortage, given the lethargic response from Government to make the process more streamlined.

“SouthDoc services cannot be diminished in any way, the people of Cork South West depend on the clinics and Minster must intervene to secure the future of the service”, she concluded.

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