Tuesday 22 January 2019

'Urgent' GP appointment could take a week, while patients are facing six week wait for regular visit, warn doctors

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients are at risk of having to wait six weeks for a routine appointment to see their GP because doctors cannot cope with their workload, doctors warned today.

An urgent appointment could take a week.

The annual meeting of the  National Association of General Practitioners  (NAGP)in Cork was told that general practice is under severe strain and many have closed their business to new patients.

Dr Maitiu O'Tuathail , the NAGP's new President, set out the pressures on family doctors who are the last "functioning part of the health system," he warned.

Health Minister Simon Harris, who did not attend the conference, has indicated that talks will take place early next month on reversing the cuts on fees imposed during the recession on GPs for patient care under the medical card scheme.

However, he has already missed a series of projected time-lines to agree a new contract with GPs to provide more care in the community for patients.

Junior Health Minister Jim Daly warned the conference any reversal of the cuts must be tied to extended services which GPs will be required to provide.

It is unclear how much extended care GPs will be willing to take on without exacting a high price when it comes to improved fees..

Doctors told the conference of their level of burnout .

The NAGP said " young GPs are voting with their feet and emigrating while our more seasoned GPs are retiring earlier than planned. "

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