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24 May 2022

Kilkenny GP shortage may leave local families without a doctor

Many practices unable to take on new patients

Shortage of GPs in Kilkenny may leave local families without a doctor

A GP shortage has hit Kilkenny

A critical shortage of GPs in Kilkenny means that many local practices are currently unable to take on new patients, leaving new families without a doctor.

Major practices across the county from North Kilkenny (Castlecomer Medical Centre) to the city (Lakeside Family Practice) to South Kilkenny (Piltown Health Centre) are all at full capacity.

The Kilkenny People contacted practices across the city and county and every practice that responded to queries said that they are currently unable to take on new patients.

Data released by The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) four years ago found that Kilkenny had the second highest number of GPs per capita set to retire and local retirements are now clearly exacerbating the issue.

One rural practice told the Kilkenny People they have been inundated with calls following a recent GP retirement in a nearby practice.

“We are at capacity and struggling to accommodate new families within our own catchment area but are still getting lots of calls from people willing to travel further just to have a dedicated GP,” a clinic spokesperson said.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that recruitment difficulties are adding to the struggle of local practices.

“A chronic inability to attract applicants to vacant posts in our health services across all medical specialties is having a serious detrimental effect on the provision of healthcare in Ireland,” the IMO stated.

Dr Denis McCauley, chair of the GP committee of the IMO, said that doctors currently working in the system are at breaking point.

“After two years of being on the frontline of the Covid-19 battle, doctors are exhausted yet are unable to get a break due to our inability to recruit staff to the system.

“The current contract does not reflect modern general practice and we must urgently address the systemic issues that are making the specialty unattractive to our new graduates particularly in areas of a service resourcing sustainable workload, work-life balance and family-friendly arrangements.”

The Irish College of General Practitioners recently estimated that Ireland currently has about 68 GPs per 100,000 population, compared to 110 in Canada, and 120 in Australia.

Recent GP graduate surveys showed that almost one in five emigrate within a year of graduation, and just a quarter of those plan to return.

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