Deputy Jackie Cahill: concerned over shortage of locums for ShannonDoc
Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill has called for urgent action to address the threatened cuts to the ShannonDoc service.
It is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of locum GPs because of work permit rules, which could result in cuts to the out of hours service.
“ShannonDoc provides vital out of hours GP services to communities across North Tipperary and any cutbacks will have serious implications for patients. The service is essential but has become increasingly stretched over the past number of years, however, reducing hours or closing treatment centres cannot be considered an option," he said.
The Thurles TD said that he had been talking to local doctors who were extremely worried about the situation.
While the HSE funds the administrative and support elements of the service, it is the GPs themselves who cover the cost of so-called “red-eye” doctors – who work unsocial, on-call hours. They are finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors willing to take on the job.
In the past, doctors from places such as Australia and South Africa came here to get experience and took up these posts, but the current work permit scheme for non-EU residents is causing problems and delays, he said.
“I am calling on the relevant Government Ministers to examine whether these work permits can be expedited in certain situations," said Deputy Cahill.
He said that all measures must be explored to ensure that the ShannonDoc service was maintained.
"Cuts simply cannot be countenanced, and I am asking the HSE, the Minister and the relevant authorities to examine what measures can be taken to ensure that doctors can be recruited in a timely manner," said Deputy Cahill.