Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the government is not doing enough to recruit and retain GPs in rural towns and villages.

There are a number of GP surgeries across Cavan and Monaghan which are already at full capacity, and there are families who cannot get registered with a local GP.

Deputy Smith explained, “Over the past number of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of GPs retiring, while at the same time, there has been a drop off in the number of GPs taking up posts in rural areas. The situation has become so stark that GPs are having to refuse new patients – leaving families without a local service.

“Minister Harris claims that the government is “committed to the continued development of GP capacity”, however the steps which have been taken to date are merely piecemeal and do not go far enough. He lauds the fact that GP training places have risen from 120 in 2009 to 193 in 2018 – that’s an extremely low increase over a ten year period, and it is failing to keep up with demand.

“There appears to be no sense of urgency in government to effectively tackle this issue. Fianna Fáil recognises the importance of family doctors and the fact that they are the beating heart of the primary care system. We have put forward a series of proposals to retain and support rural GPs, including an increase in the rural GP allowance to €25,000.

“This situation has been escalating steadily over the past number of years and has now reached crisis point with families unable to access GP care in their local area. It is unacceptable to have parts of the country without adequate GP cover. The Sláintecare report outlines some of the measures needed to address this issue and I am calling on Minister Harris to step up to the mark and ensure the swift implementation of the recommendations”.