Kelly warning on GP shortage

Seamus Duke  Some GPs in the County Roscommon area are closing their doors to new patients because they cannot cope with taking on more new patients.  A new study published yesterday (Wednesday) which questioned more than 1300 family doctors, revealed that 27% of GPs nationwide had closed their patient list. The figure for Dublin/North East and Dublin/Mid-Leinster is 34%, the figure for the Southern region is 25%, while the figure for the Western region is 18%.   The problem is that there are far too few doctors training as GPs and that retiring GPs are not being replaced. The IMO and the Irish College of GPs  say that although the number of training places for GPs was increased this year the HSE had not provided the funding.   The Roscommon People spoke to well-known Castlerea GP Dr. Greg Kelly about the problem. ‘There is a major problem in areas like Dublin and the east coast where there has been a huge rise in the population in recent years. The numbers coming into the profession has not kept pace so that’s where the problem is’ he said. ‘There are a lot of women now trained as GPs, and a lot of them are reluctant to take on a full-time GPs position or to become partners in a practice. Many only want to work shorter hours and many do not want to work at weekends which is also a factor’ he said.   Dr. Kelly says that people are now using their GP more for preventive medicine which is also a factor. ‘Many more people are now using their doctor for annual check-ups and blood tests which is very welcome but it makes things much busier too’ he said.   Dr. Kelly says that the biggest problem he can foresee in rural areas like Roscommon is retirements. ‘In the next 12 years over 50% of GPs will have retired and that will pose a huge problem. It is a problem that will have to be faced in the very near future’ he concluded.