FAMILY GPs in Laois will join hundreds of doctors from around the country for a mass protest outside Dáil Éireann tomorrow evening (Wednesday).
Patients in Laois are advised that because of the action, at least 28 medical practices may be closed or on limited services for the day.
These include doctors David Booth, Robert Lawlor, Michelle Byrne, Conor Grimes, Maria Carroll, Simon Honan, Peter Kemple, Sinead Burke, John Geraghty, Seán Montague, Andrew Lavin, Adrian McDonald, Vivek Mahadev, Averil Atkinson, Julie Cunningham, Mary Sheehan and Sharon McDonald as well as doctors Sharon Delaney, David Rabinowicz, Maeve Lee, Annmarie Miller, Paddy O’Dwyer, Deirdre Honan, John Paul Campion, Sarah Punch, Anna Gullane, Caitlin McFadden and John Madden.
The doctors in Laois say that they “will be protesting on behalf of patients, as the family doctor service is, or has in some areas, completely collapsed.
“Successive governments have suffocated general practice by cutting funding by approximately 40%. It is now having an impact with a shortage of GPs nationally, patients being unable to get a GP in their community and, for the first time in Ireland, waiting lists to see a GP.
In a statement, the 28 doctors say that they “are tired of having to say sorry to patients.
“Sorry, we can’t give you a same-day appointment. Sorry, our nurse is only here part-time. Sorry, I can only give you a few minutes per consultation. Sorry, you have to wait four years for your hip replacement. Sorry, you have to wait two years for an outpatient appointment. Sorry, you have to wait five years for your cataract surgery. Sorry, you are unable to access physiotherapy, psychology, podiatry and all the other ancillary services that make a health system work efficiently and safely.
“Sorry, your relative died on a waiting list before their appointment came around.”
The statement added: “We have not chosen this decision lightly, but it is vital for us to make the government and others fully aware that our health system is in crisis and has been for years.
“This is despite that fact that we have one of the most expensive health systems in the world.
“Evidence from around the world confirms that community-based health systems like the family doctor system are the most efficient, safe and effective.
“Years of successive cuts in government funding for general practice has created an inefficient, unstructured health system which is collapsing.
“Also, promised extra investment in developing the GP service, like the fairytale promises under Sláintecare, have not even been begun to be delivered, so that the family doctor service can be healthy and sustainable for the future.
“For months, the government have promised to reverse the 38% cuts imposed over past years (FEMPI cuts to GPs) and to offer and properly fund a new, modernised GP contract, but these things have not materialised.”
The statement added: “The number of doctors who can no longer take on any more patients is a growing crisis. The medical card system can no longer cope, having been starved of resources. Not enough new doctors are being appointed by the state to serve the public and many are having to retire early, due to burnout.
“GPs are at, and many have passed, breaking point. The future survival of the GP service is vital to enable it to serve patients. This issue affects whole communities around Ireland.
“For these reasons, GPs will be taking unprecedented action.”