SINN Féin Kerry TD Pa Daly is calling on the HSE to consider directly employing GPs in rural locations struggling to secure doctor cover.
His calls come as it emerged that Ballyduff will have no locally-based GP providing clinical care over the Christmas and New Year period.
The HSE has confirmed that it was unable to secure the services of a locum to run the practice in Ballyduff between December 13 of last week and January 3 next.
But it said it will have a locum in place from January 4.
Locum doctors have served the clinic’s patients since September last, following retirements, leading to deep concern locally.
The Kerryman highlighted the issue last month when Aontú representative Sonny Foran voiced fears over what he said was the reduced availability of the GP service since the retirements.
This was through no fault of the locums covering the village and its large hinterland since.
Following news the HSE cannot now source the service of any locum for the area until the New Year, Deputy Pa Daly is calling for a review of the current GP scheme.
And he suggested that the scheme run in the Gaeltacht should be extended to more rural areas.
“News that Ballyduff GP Practice will not have a sitting GP until January 4, 2022, leads me to conclude that we must review the current GP scheme.
“Ballyduff GP practice has been served by a locum since September 2021… The HSE has assured that a locum will take up practice starting January 4th, 2022,” Deputy Daly said.
He said the issue affects most rural areas, particularly the most vulnerable in those communities.
“From my time in Comhchoiste na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus Phobal Labhartha na Gaeilge, I know that in certain situations the HSE directly employs GPs in Gaeltacht and rural areas, where no GP is willing or able to take up practice themselves.
“Alternatives such as this must be considered to ensure that GP care can be provided for rural communities and that they have the benefit of a GP who knows their medical needs and histories. Moving from locum to locum is not a viable long-term solution.”
Dr Ursula Scullion will provide emergency GP care for the area via the Clanmaurice Medical Practice at Abbeydorney until January 3, with arrangements for repeat prescriptions in place at local pharmacies.