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Ireland has serious shortage of GPs

DUBLIN: A shortage of GPs could become a problem in the coming years in Ireland, which is already suffering from a shortage of nursing staff. The HSE anticipates a 1,660-GP shortage over the next six years. The news that the GP shortage will worsen in the coming years comes at a time when there are already complaints that existing GPs are overworked.

Cork GP Diarmuid Quinlan, medical director of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), confirmed the HSE’s revelation.

Each 1,000 people requires between 1.02 and 1.1 general practitioners. In that position, the current national average is 0.69 GP. This is a huge workload for them. GPs are no longer here to care for older people with complex health problems. Those who are critically ill require immediate attention. But the situation is that one can see the GP only after waiting for days.

Those working on out-of-hours services such as South Dock in Cork and Kerry are required to work a full day’s work plus an evening shift between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Dr. Quinlan explained. Out-of-hours services are also used for routine care. Previously, this was only done in an emergency.

According to Dr. Quinlan, the number of GPs in training has increased and will reach 350 by 2026. However, none of this is sufficient to meet the needs.

The Irish Medical Organization and the ICGP are urging new GPs to focus their practises in rural areas. GPs should be encouraged, as IDA supports start-ups. They say funding cuts during the recession created disillusionment among young GPs, with many reluctant to set up their own practises.

They argue that increasing the number of doctors overnight is impractical. They also suggest that more health care assistants and nurse practitioners be hired to provide patients with prompt medical care.

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