A lack of access to the out of hours urgent GP care service, Westdoc, means some families do not have adequate access to the service.
Senator Aisling Dolan is calling for the expansion of Westdoc services to alleviate the pressure on Emergency Departments and avoid a withdrawal of much needed services.
Currently €4 million is allocated to Westdoc by the HSE to provide out of hours (ooh) urgent GP services to Galway, Roscommon and Mayo. However, Westdoc does not extend far enough and fails to cover South East Galway and South Roscommon.
The HSE Winter Plan announced by Minister Donnelly last week allocated €10 million for out of hours GP cover. This funding must be targeted to account for the expansion of Westdoc so that all of Galway is covered.
We need action now for our GPs, some of whom are working for 13 days straight, as they still have to continue with their day and night time hours and weekend cover.
A comprehensive review of the financial and educational incentives that are available is crucial to ensure we can recruit GPs to practices in regional towns across the country. The Department of Health must also prioritise improving the work/life balance for GPs in rural areas.
This is a crisis for our region, and I have raised this issue on a number of occasions in the Seanad for a fair out of hours GP urgent service for all families living in the West.