The Westdoc Service needs to be expanded to include Moycullen, Rosscahill and Oughterard so people in those areas are no longer being "forced to travel to attend a GP".
This is the view of Fine Gael Senator and Seanad spokesperson on public expenditure and Gaeltacht affairs, Seán Kyne, who said areas such as Corrandulla and Oughterard have been "left without a service" or else only have a a diminished service, thus "forcing local people to travel".
According to Sen Kyne, in many areas, more than 90 per cent of doctors are covered by out-of-hours services. In eastern Connemara, that coverage is c60 per cent. "It is unfair, unsafe and unsound," he said. "More funding must be provided to Westdoc for its expansion in order that all communities are covered and have the certainty of a comprehensive GP service 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Speaking in the Seanad recently, Sen Kyne said this situation only relates to weekday GP services. "The situation in respect of out-of-hours services is even more troubling," he said. "Despite the efforts of GPs serving Moycullen, Rosscahill, and Oughterard, among other areas, local GPs are still not included in the Westdoc service, the out-of-hours GP service for the West."
'Funding for Westdoc would prioritise care in the community and strive for outcomes that avoid having to attend crowded emergency departments'
Sen Kyne said GPs in the affected areas are "working flat out" to provide a service out of hours and at weekends for their local communities. The HSE is currently providing locum cover on a one-in-five basis but only in the short term with no commitment to maintaining this provision into the future.
He said greater funding for the Westdoc Service would have benefits for the entire health service. “We do not invest adequately in primary care services in Ireland and a much greater portion of our overall health budget should be invested in primary care," he said. "The funding should prioritise care in the community and strive for outcomes that avoid ever having to attend crowded emergency departments or acute hospitals."