GPs should not be forced to send their patients to Emergency Departments in order to skip the years-long queues to see consultants and obtain critical diagnostic procedures.
Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher was commenting after media reports outlined the situation of people, referred by their GP for a diagnostic procedure at their local hospital, being forced to present at Emergency Departments in order to obtain the test.
"The net result of this, and I don’t blame GPs for doing their best for their patients, is an increase in the number of people attending Emergency Departments in our acute hospitals," he said.
"GPs should not be forced to send their patients into the Emergency Department in the hope of getting a diagnostic in a timely manner.
"They know that this isn’t the way it should be, but equally, they know it’s the only way their patient will get the diagnostic test in a timely manner.
"Everyone keeps saying that once you get past the Emergency Department, the Heath Service works very well.
"Until we deal with the challenge of not enough consultant level doctors in our hospitals, we will continue to see scandalously high waiting lists.
"Increased capacity is also needed in terms of diagnostic services – could some of these procedures take place in our network of community hospitals?
"There are backlogs in our acute hospitals so the answer must include creating diagnostic hubs in our community hospitals, but it’s all predicated on having enough consultants working in the system to see the patients once referred by their GP."