Saturday 20 January 2018

Terence Cosgrave: Why it's crucial the State heeds warnings of GPs

The National Association of General Practitioners says that the primary care system is close to collapse. Terence Cosgrave talks to three doctors about the choices and challenges they face and why one doesn't regret his decision to emigrate

Terence Cosgrave

CUTBACKS in general practice have reached a breaking point, with many GPs operating at a loss or breaking even. It means that many will have to reduce their service to the public or even leave Ireland to earn a reasonable income. The result could be a devastating blow to general practice in Ireland – a service that is universally acknowledged by the public as the one area of the health service that works.

Dr David Janes, for example, is a GP in rural Waterford near the town of Clonmel. He says that last month he worked for nothing, as by the time he had paid for all his overheads, there was no money left to pay himself a salary. With a wife and three children, that position is untenable.

Dr Janes trained in Britain and has experience in emergency medicine as well as his GP training. For that reason, he already does emergency medicine work here and is called to the scene of accidents at a rate of about one a day. He does this work for free up to a 50-mile radius – despite the time it takes – and he says he has no objection to providing services for free, if he can make a living at the same time. The problem, he says, is that cuts to general practice under the FEMPI legislation have made it impossible for him to make any income at all.

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