Donal O’Cofaigh has highlighted repeatedly the continued failure by Stormont to address the ongoing GP crisis in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. In recent months he publicly revealed statistics confirming the scale and extent of the crisis in GP out-of-hours cover.
Funding for primary care (GPs) in NI is among the lowest in the UK. Moves to increase the numbers of GPs being trained up are far too low to address the shortfall. Even more disgracefully Stormont is refusing to consider the obvious option of the NHS directly employing GPs and directing them to work in areas of greatest need – just as other emergency workers are recruited.
The failure to deal with the GP crisis and the out-of-hours GP crisis – means that pressures on our Emergency Department are overwhelming. Staff are underpaid, understaffed and at breaking point. Those who need medical attention face interminable waits, meaning serious conditions being undiagnosed. A perfect storm is brewing and there is a genuine fear that there are those at the top of the Health Department who will not let a ‘good crisis go to waste’. We face the threat of further creeping privatisation and cutbacks. We must stand ready to organise to defend our NHS services!