Carol Nolan TD

Looming GP availability crisis will reduce rural healthcare to a skeleton service

– February 23 2024

Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said she finds the lack of a sense of urgency from Government with respect to the ‘existing and ever deepening GP availability crisis’ almost ‘incomprehensible.’

Deputy Nolan was speaking as the Rural Independent Group, of which she is a member prepares to move a Dáil motion on Healthcare Provision in Rural Communities on Wednesday.

The motion will call on Government to recognise and respond to HSE modelling that suggests by 2025 Ireland can expect to see a shortage of between 493 and 1380 GPs, mainly in rural areas.

This is in addition to the likelihood that many GPs are due to retire by 2026 (expected to be around 700):

“We are staring down the barrel of a massive, widescale and truly alarming emergency in terms of local access to GP services and yet in many ways, Government is carrying on as if it was business as usual,” said Deputy Nolan.

“I have constituents who are frantically searching for an available GP, both medical card holders and private patients, and they are having absolutely no success.”

“Finding a GP to take you on should not have the same odds stacked against you as winning the euro millions, yet that is what an increasing number of people think about this.”

“I and my Rural Independent Group colleagues are calling on Government to increase the number of GPs through a long-term GP workforce strategy and plan, addressing the unhealthy work climate for GPs by improving support, reducing their administrative workloads, and tackling their patient workload intensity and volume, as well as long hours.”

“We are also calling on Government to implement policies that will make the provision of rural healthcare attractive for young doctors, such as offering scholarships to medical students from rural areas to return and practice in their home areas,” Deputy Nolan concluded.