Lochside Garage

Call for action to deal with shortage of GP


Council chairman Brendan Hegarty

COUNCILLORS in Fermanagh and Omagh have pledged to work more closely with the Western Trust to promote the area as a location for new doctors.
The move comes in response to an ongoing crisis in the medical sector which has led to a severe shortage of GPs in some areas and threats of closure hanging over a number of local practises.
In a letter to the council, the former health minister, Michelle O’Neill acknowledged that the problem had been caused by recent and planned retirements.
She said the Health and Social Care Board would welcome any assistance from the council which could help in terms of future recruitment initiatives aimed at encouraging GPs to the Fermanagh area.
“The challenges regarding recruitment and retention of doctors, particular junior doctors are complex. Senior management in the Western HSC Trust are working with the NI Medical and Dental Training Agency on this issue and I am sure that the Trust would welcome input from the Council on this work,” she added.
At a meeting of the Council last week, SDLP cllr Josephine Deehan, who is also a GP, said the case for a medical school in the north-west was well-established.
“We are looking at a period of a decade from the opening of a North West Medical School to the graduation of new GPs,” she said.
“It is important that we provide ideas that might help in the campaign to recruit more GPs now, not just to Fermanagh, but also Omagh.”
DUP councillor, Raymond Farrell, said that the ongoing and future pressures in terms of health needed to be addressed.
“I am reasonably positive about the need for and importance of a North West Medical School. But the pressures in terms of waiting lists and an increase in the elderly population and the health issues which this entails are happening now.
“As a result of this, it is vital that the efforts to recruit new GPs to this area are speedily progressed.”
The chief executive, Brendan Hegarty, said they had agreed to work with the Western Trust to promote the area as a place for doctors to relocate.
“This is one example of the areas in which the two organisations can work together,” he added.

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