Cavan County Council.

Call for GP co-ops to be set up

Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley urged an improvement in the situation

The lack of GPs in Cavan has been highlighted at a county council meeting, with calls for more to be done to rectify the issue.

Fianna Fáil’s John Paul Feeley urged an improvement in the situation, claiming the current and only GP in Blacklion does not expect to be replaced.

“He has said to me that he does not envisage there will be a replacement for him when the time comes for him to retire. Across the country, you can see long running advertisements for doctors in fairly big towns and villages and doctors are not coming forward to take up those positions.”

He criticised the lack of action to encourage doctors to stay in Ireland and the failure to update the contract for GP services since the current one was put in place in 2019.

“Covid in one respect has helped because a lot of doctors who would have gone abroad for a number of years’ experience have not been able to do so but nonetheless the problem remains.

“In England and Wales there have been at least five different versions of the GP contract since the last GP contract review in this country and that’s leaving general practice far and far behind.

“If the primary care system was working properly, we would have a lot less pressure on our hospitals.”

Councillors rallied behind the comments with calls for better arrangements to be put in place to ensure the adequate provision of GP cover, particularly in rural areas.

Fine Gael’s TP O’Reilly urged solutions to be found to encourage GPs to locate in rural areas, saying “whatever can be done needs to be done”.

Independent Shane P O’Reilly criticised the provision of out of hours GP services locally, as they require patients to travel to see a doctor.

“We have a situation where we are dealing with a GP centre in Castleblayney, in Ardee, in Cavan town and in Navan. We have a crisis situation in this area. We have a primary care unit in Virginia, which is unable to look after random and normal day-to-day facilitation of patients because the doctors are under so much pressure.

“In Bailieborough, we have a situation where we have five doctors across two practices. In Moynalty, we have two.”

He urged GPs to band together to set up co-operatives in local areas to ensure people can see a doctor close to their homes at all times.

“I for the life of me can’t understand why we can’t have smaller co-operatives of doctors. Why a person in Mullagh, who finds themselves sick has to go to Castleblayney to see a doctor or must present to Cavan General or Navan, I will never know.”

Councillors across the board joined in the call for action. Cllr Peter McVitty (FG) said Swanlinbar in the west of the county is “a perfect example” as there are “different doctors coming and going”.

Fianna Fáil’s Seán Smith praised the investment in health services in west Cavan in recent years at Ballyconnell Health Centre, in Swanlinbar and Belturbet and with the ongoing construction of the new Primary Care Centre in Killeshandra.

“We have the infrastructure but no personnel,” he said.