At 2 pm today, Wednesday, February 6, family doctors belonging to the National Association of GPs (NAGP) will protest outside government buildings. Approximately 500 of the union's 2,000 members are expected to stand outside the Dáil in protest against insufficient funding.
Their protest is another symbol of our crumbling health service; as it comes amid ongoing nurse and midwife strikes, as well as the controversy surrounding the cost of the new children's hospital.
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Sick of saying sorry
“We have not chosen this decision lightly,” the NAGP has said, “but it is vital for us to make the government and all elected representatives fully aware that our health system is in crisis and has been for years. This is despite the fact that we have one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world.
“We are sick of saying sorry to our patients,” they said. “Sorry we can’t give you a same-day appointment. Sorry I can only give you a few minutes per consultation. Sorry our nurse is only here part-time. Sorry you have to wait two years for an out-patient appointment.”
As it stands, GPs in clinics across the country are turning away new patients. Understaffing (due to doctors entering early retirement as a result of burn-out, as well as the emigration of new doctors abroad), has made it difficult for GPs to manage existing patients, let alone take on new ones.
What’s more, the NAGP says years of successive cuts in government funding for General Practice has created an inefficient and unstructured health system, which is now collapsing. The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act of 2015 has led to inadequate services, with the NAGP adding, “public representatives need to be held to account for this grave failure.”
“The future survival of the GP service is vital, to enable it to serve you, your family members and friends who use it. This issue affects whole communities around Ireland.”
Doctors taking part in this protest have asked patients for their understanding.
Photo: Labelled for reuse via Flickr