Residents of the town of Templemore, County Tipperary, are “extremely concerned” about the fate of a local GP practice following the HSE’s inability to recruit a replacement for a retired doctor.
Dr Joseph Hennessy retired from his practice in Templemore this summer and, after two recruitment drives, the HSE was unable to find a replacement.
As a result, as of Friday, a group practice in the city has taken on Dr Hennessy’s patient panel on an interim basis.
Although the HSE has no responsibility for private patients, they have been advised by office staff of the need to find a new GP.
Locals have asked for a six-month extension to find a replacement for Dr Hennessy.
“This is a problem that we face in many areas and the HSE must ask itself why it is not attracting general practitioners outside the large urban centers,” said Jackie Cahill, local TD for Fianna Fáil.
Mr Cahill said people in the area were “extremely anxious and extremely worried” about the situation.
“Whether it’s private or public patients, people just think the other practice will be too big, and they just won’t be able to provide them with the right service and private patients actually don’t. no home to go, so try to get caught. on a practice turns out to be exceptionally difficult.
Dr Hennessy had around 750 medical card patients in addition to a number of private patients.
According to the HSE, two recruitment drives have been carried out, with Dr Hennessy’s panel being advertised locally, nationally and in the.
There was one claimant in March, but they subsequently withdrew their claim.
Since Dr Hennessy’s retirement, eight locum physicians have provided coverage for the practice.
Having this number of physicians covering such a short period is inconsistent in terms of providing quality service, according to the HSE.
“Recruiting a lone GP to take over as a single GP in a practice is much more difficult than recruiting from a group practice and this is one of the main reasons the HSE has not been able to recruit a general practitioner for Dr Hennessy’s practice ”declared the HSE.
Added to this is the “extreme difficulty” of finding locum physicians in Ireland at the present time and locum GPs are “neither available nor willing to work in many lonely rural GP practices”.
The local group practice taking care of the medical card patients recently recruited a new general practitioner and additional nursing and administrative staff.
A letter and an information leaflet were distributed to all patients in Dr. Hennessy’s general medicine departments in August to inform them of the new arrangements.
The HSE said it had made every effort to fill the vacant post. The post will be published again at the end of 2021.