Some of the protesters last Saturday in Templemore, demanding retention of a local GP service
Protests took place over the weekend in Templemore to save a vital GP service in the town.
Tipperary County Council passed a motion on Monday backing the protesters, and demanding that the HSE find a replacement for Dr Joe Hennessey, who is due to retire in September and who has treated countless patients in long years of dedicated service.
Cllr Michael Smith stated: “I am calling on the HSE to suspend this proposal for a period of six months in relation to transferring patients from a local surgery in Templemore. This will allow for meaningful engagement with the local community and interested General Practitioners to take over this existing practice.
“The decision taken recently is causing huge concern and stress particularly the elderly and vulnerable patients. It is now a health and safety concern.”
The move was backed unanimously by all councillors, and it was agreed to write to the HSE and the Minister for Health.
Cllr Smith added: “The Hennessy family has given an outstanding service to the people of Templemore and Roscrea. And we all wish him the best in his retirement. I don’t believe the HSE gave adequate time to advertise this service” catering to a wider hinterland of 2,000 people and outlying villages.
Templemore has lost its courthouse, its bank, and this is another huge blow to the town, said Cllr Smith.
Cllr Noel Coonan said dozens of people turned out on Saturday, and Deputies Michael Lowry and Jackie Cahill showed their solidarity in the campaign to retain Templemore’s GP service.
The HSE’s response to the people of Templemore - who had agreed to use the GP as little as possible during covid - was “to close the surgery, create another queue, another difficulty for the public.” There are few doctors who want to take on more patients, so “this is critical for Templemore.
“Everybody supports this motion. The message on Saturday was loud and clear. No more downgrading for Templemore. We're not going to take any more of it for Templemore.”
Cllr Coonan commended the Templemore Action Group and the other participants of the march.
A leaflet was circulated by organisers urging action.
“If they close Dr Hennessey's practise, one practise in the town will not be enough to cater for all the extra patients who will be left stranded by the HSE,” reads the statement.
“We urge the HSE to keep the surgery open and to find a replacement doctor to take over.
“During the covid pandemic, we all complied with the HSE, we stayed at home, we did not overwhelm our doctors' surgeries, healthcare system, or our hospitals with other ailments. We put up and shut up, but NO MORE, we now require these services to help clear the backlog of outstanding problems and ailments which have been placed on the long finger.
“It is not just the patients of this practise who will suffer, it will spread far and wide.” The leaflet mentions the 500 secondary school students, primary schools and creches, the garda training college, and overseas students in the town, who will all be affected. Waiting times in hospitals “will grow even longer when patients have no local doctor to attend for minor requirements or referral letters,” it adds.
Cllr Shane Lee attended the rally. He stated: “It's a sad and worrying situation to witness the HSE and our government bleed our smaller towns dry of services. I salute the people of Templemore for standing up and saying enough is enough.
“I have already contacted Minister Donnelly asking that he intervene and stop hiding behind the HSE. It is about time that those in Government stand up and be counted.”
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