A long-term sustainable solution is needed to ensure out-of-hours GP care is maintained in to the future in the East Galway area according Fine Gael Roscommon – Galway election candidate, Councillor Aisling Dolan.
Currently a group of General Practitioners in Ballinasloe and district operates a Rota to ensure there is GP care overnight when people can be at their most vulnerable. However former President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Ballinasloe-based Dr. Annraoi Finnegan, says recruitment and retention of GPs into the area is proving increasingly difficult, “getting doctors to cover 24-hour shifts is proving difficult. The EU Working Time Directive does not apply to GPs, so we if we work the 24-hour shift, we have to be on duty again the next morning at 9 o’ clock and do another full day of work. It’s a safety issue for GPs and for patients. The solution would be to join Westdoc’s ‘Red Eye’ service.”
Westdoc does not currently cover areas such as Ballinasloe, Clontuskert, Kiltormer, Laurencetown and Ballydangan and Taughmacconnell in South Roscommon. The Ballinasloe group of GPs has applied to Westdoc to join its service which would provide sustainable out-of-hours cover into the future and ensure safe working conditions for GPs.
“The GP is our first port of call when we’re ill and they are the people who ensure early diagnosis and refer to the next stage, be it for x-rays, scans, bloods in primary care centres/outpatients or if needed, admission to hospital.
We have the least amount of cover in East Galway and Roscommon which is having a huge impact on work/life balance for our doctors, who cover huge geographical areas and long shifts. It’s not sustainable. It’s extremely difficult for female doctors with young families to maintain a healthy work/life balance.”
Roscommon – Galway is a rural constituency with many older people in our communities who need access to round-the-clock emergency care. The current GPs have been doing a fantastic job but it’s vital that the area is included in the ‘Red Eye’ service by Westdoc. Fine Gael recognises this as an issue and has concluded a new contract with GPs investing 210 million euro in vital services in communities. I will continue to work with GPs to ensure people living in this region have the same access to emergency healthcare that is afforded to other areas around the country,” says Cllr. Aisling Dolan.