€436k boost for Out of Hours GP service

‘Life-changing’ for stressed GPS, says Dolan

There was a boost for the Out of Hours GP service in the Ballinasloe and south-east Galway area in recent days with confirmation of €436,000 in extra Government funding.

News of the funding comes after a number of GPs held a meeting in the Shearwater Hotel at which they highlighted the increased pressure they are under.

At the time, Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan, who said local GPs were being forced to work excessively long hours, called for additional funding to expand Westdoc services in Ballydangan, Taughmaconnell and surrounding areas. She also called for Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to take immediate action.

Last week, a cross-party meeting of public representatives from the area was held and was attended by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State Anne Rabbitte. Present from Roscommon-Galway constituency were Deputies Michael Fitzmarice and Claire Kerrane as well as Senators Aisling Dolan and Eugene Murphy. Deputy Denis Naughten was represented by Cllr. Dr. Evelyn Parsons.

Arising from that discussion, a joint submission on the need for funding was put to the Department of Health. Subsequently, Minister of State Anne Rabbitte confirming news of the funding.

Welcoming the breakthrough, Senator Dolan said the funding will go to a number of the group practices in the Ballinasloe catchment area (including South Roscommon and south-east Galway) and will reduce risks to patients and enhance doctor safety.

Senator Dolan thanked Dr Genevieve Flynn and all the GPs who met with the HSE and public representatives. She described the funding as “life-changing” for GPs who had spoken of excessive work hours.

“I have raised the need for this funding a number of times in the Seanad and worked with government colleagues to highlight the crisis in our GP networks. HSE Community Healthcare West have supported this request from the GP network to expand the Westdoc service and now the Ballinasloe and Southeast Galway area is included,” she said.

“These supports will also improve the quality of life for GPs, reducing risks to patient and doctor safety and will assist in recruiting GPs to our region”.

Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy expressed his thanks to Minister Anne Rabbitte for facilitating the meeting and also to Dr. Evelyn Parsons for her contribution. He indicated that in his view it will take a certain period of time to get the system up and running as “the GPs will have to try and organise how this will work”.

He added: “I, like many Oireachtas members in the region, had been aware of a lack of GP Out of Hours service as members of the public were expressing concern”.