Former TD to run for Dáil on rural GP issue
Former TD Dr Jerry Cowley, a GP in rural Mayo, is to declare himself a candidate in the General Election tonight.
Dr Cowley, who has a practice in Mulranny, will be selected on the "no doctor, no village" ticket as part of a national campaign to retain doctors in rural communities. He is the second GP to declare as General Election candidate under the banner and joins Dr Michael Harty, a GP based in Kilmihil, Co Clare.
Dr Cowley was first elected as an Independent for the Mayo constituency in 2002, when he campaigned on services at Mayo General Hospital.
He lost his seat in 2007. Before the last election he joined the Labour Party, but failed to get elected.
The popular GP is a former Mayo Person of the Year and Rehab People of the Year award winner.
He warned yesterday that several rural medical practices were in danger of being wiped out due to lack of supports.
Already, many communities have lost their doctor or are reliant on locums.
"The patient has been sidelined and there is no doctor to take over in many cases where a GP retires," he said.
Last week, the Department of Health offered an improved rural practice allowance - a top-up payment for rural doctors. It was rejected as inadequate by the Irish Medical Organisation.
The doctors want a number of measures to make their practices more viable, including financial incentives to compensate for the long journeys they have to make for house calls.
The doctors say their difficulties are part of rural decline.