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Connacht Tribune

Rural GPs struggle to survive

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Rural doctors are struggling like never before amid cuts of 38% since the recession and a severe shortage of substitute doctors to allow them to achieve meaningful work life balance.

Renvyle GP Alex Michel said he can be on call for 106 hours a week and often works twelve days in a row due to the lack of locum cover.

He believes doctors in rural practices are hurting most of all due to the Fempi cuts, introduced as part of a new contract for GMS (General Medical Services) patients who have free medical care through medical cards or GP visit cards.

The removal of distance band codes and rural practice grants has left a sizeable number of rural practices now insolvent. Many rural posts remain unfilled because GPs no longer see setting up in villages and small towns as an attractive proposition.

In their submission to the Government to negotiate a new contract, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) argued that rural practices cover much larger geographical areas than non-rural practices and have more socio-economically deprived patients than those in cities or towns.

As a result, the vast majority of their practice is reliant on GMS patients for whom doctors receive a single payment per patient regardless of the number of visits to a GP.

Dr Michel, a German native who has worked around Ireland for 17 years, seven of them in Renvyle, said it was now very difficult to provide best service to his patients. He has considered leaving the country due to the financial strain and work burden.

“My workload is much greater than ever before due to chronic care diseases such as respiratory disease, diabetes and the aging population. I have to work holidays, weekends, travelling to patients 20 km either side of Renvyle, covering an area from Cleggan to Leenane,” he explained.

“I work on my own – occasionally I have a locum doctor helping me a day here and there, but in the last year I could not have a proper family holiday during the summer because I couldn’t get a locum.”

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra

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Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.

The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.

A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.

“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.

“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’

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Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.

At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.

A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.

Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.

“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.

With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.

“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.

The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.

Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.

Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.

The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.

Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.

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Connacht Tribune

Storm Barra to bring coastal flooding and disruption to Galway

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Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West on Tuesday, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.

A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.

“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said,

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