A new GP contract is needed to help solve the crisis in the number of GP’s in the country especially in rural areas. For the past number of years a new contract for GP’s has been discussed and it is now a reality that no new GP wants to be on call 24 hours a day seven days a week. There are enough doctors being trained and are qualifying but a lot of them are emigrating because of the conditions that they would face here in Ireland. The reality is that GP’s are sub-contractors to the HSE and they hear nothing from them from one end of the year to the other. When a GP goes on holidays or if they take time off they have to ensure cover and they are responsible for their practice in that regard as it stands.
The HSE have cut the allowances for rural GP’s and the HSE are now saying that they have plenty of doctors but they are pushing people to attend doctors practices who are not able to cater for them such is the pressure of numbers. People are now having to travel further and further to access a service. We need a new GP contract incorporating that doctors do more work that would prevent people from having to attend hospitals. This contract must also recognise that GP’s must have time off and that gaps must be filled to maintain the service. At the moment no young doctor will sign the contract that exists and take on the responsibility that it entails. We need a new GP contract to be drawn up and agreed as soon as possible.