'A national problem': Rural practice sees no applications for GP vacancy

'A national problem': Rural practice sees no applications for GP vacancy

A GP practice in West Cork has received no applications for two advertised vacancies.

Thirty years ago, the practice received 70 applications for one of the jobs on offer, a stark contrast to the results of their most recent appeal.

The practice is based in Bandon, a 40 minute drive from Cork city, but has struggled to attract applications for two recent vacancies.

Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O'Mahony raised the issue in the Dáil and the HSE will readvertise the position.

"I brought the situation up in the Dáil - not only did I bring it up but I chased Minister Harris physically and over the phone," she told C103's Cork Today Show.

"Luckily there is a temporary solution. This is what he sent me: 'Efforts are underway to fill both the current and upcoming vacancy with both posts currently being readvertised. In the meantime, Cork-Kerry Community Healthcare is funding a full-time locum GP in the current vacant post so that eligible medical card holders continue to receive the care to which they are entitled'."

An aerial view of Bandon, Co Cork.
An aerial view of Bandon, Co Cork.

She suggested the GP contract should be renegotiated to encourage more doctors to apply for GP positions.

"I think a lot of it is to do with the GP contract. The GP contract was formed in 1989 - 30 years ago. A new contract needs to be negotiated in order to provide a better service and to make the job more appealing for particularly younger GPs. A lot of these GPs are going abroad, they have better opportunities. I think there needs to be more incentives to keep them in Ireland."

Deputy Murphy O'Mahony said it is also difficult to attract younger GPs to rural areas outside major cities and this also impacts services such as South Doc.

"This particular practice has a state-of-the-art computer system, you could be in New York. They're really keeping up with the times. Bandon is so near Cork Airport, so near Cork City. It's like a domino effect - if you can't recruit, if you can't retain, obviously it's going to have a knock-on effect on South Doc, which, again, is in disarray."

She described the issue as "a national problem", adding: "Nearly every constituency is facing this."

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