The Athenry Primary Care Centre was described by the Tánaiste as a world- class facility, but one of the partner GPs operating from the centre told Mr Gilmore that the Government had not provided the funding necessary to ensure it operated properly.
After being given a tour of the facility — part of the HSE’s national strategy to provide purpose-built centres to deliver primary care services to communities — Mr Gilmore addressed an invited attendance and paid tribute to all involved in making it a reality.
He stressed that the Government had set about delivering health services in the 21st century in a very different way from how they were delivered previously.
“This is the finest example in the country — anywhere in the world — of primary care being delivered in a modern way,” he said.
His comments were later echoed by Mr White.
But Dr Michael McGloin, one of four GPs working from the centre, said in his formal address that while it was a fantastic facility, full of energy and enthusiasm, it had not received the support that was necessary.
Directly addressing the Tánaiste and minister, he said: “We need financial support to supply the service and that is the message we need to give and you need to hear.”
He pointed out that if any person working at the centre was sick or had to go on maternity leave, they were not replaced. There is currently no occupational therapy service because the occupational therapist is on maternity leave.
“There is a lack of resources and we are not confident that you understand the problems at the coalface. Things are difficult for us. We need financial support to supply the service,” he said.
Dr McGloin pointed out that he and his fellow health professionals had difficulty in explaining to patients with complex medical needs why their medical cards were constantly being reviewed or being revoked.
Addressing Mr White, Dr McGloin said: “You have stated that you would like to see nobody barred from attending a GP because of lack of funds. We subscribe to the same concept.
“We would like to see everybody have free access to general practice, but the reality is at the moment that there are medical card patients who have medical cards who are afraid to access medical services because they can’t afford to get their prescriptions.
“These are the difficulties — they are extremely difficult for us in primary services,” he added.