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Vacant GP jobs show scale of rural crisis

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The representative body of general practitioners has cited two vacant positions in County Galway as evidence of a long term under-investment in general practice in rural communities.

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) fears that rural parts of Galway may be left without a GP in future unless cuts are reversed and the job made more attractive.

ICGP has pointed out the Health Service Executive (HSE) is having difficulty filling two GP positions in County Galway for years.

They are among 18 GP positions across the country that the HSE cannot fill.

ICGP said that there is a vacancy for a GP in Moycullen for the over six and a half years. The HSE said it had been “previously advertised and no applicants” applied for the position. A locum is currently in the position. There are 592 people in Moycullen who are registered for medical cards.

Meanwhile, ICPG said that the GP position on two Aran Islands – Inis Óirr and Inis Meáin – has been vacant and filled by a locum for over seven years. Some 255 people are registered for medical cards on the two islands.

ICGP said it is currently analysing its membership data and initial indications from this research “exposes the growing threat to the sustainability of general practice and rural general practice in particular, from the combined impact of an aging GP population and the emigration preferences of newly qualifying GPs”.

Preliminary ICGP data shows that up to a fifth of general practitioners are aged 60 or above with almost a third aged over 55. The research indicated that 12.5% of trainee GPs are planning to emigrate post qualification and a further 25% are undecided. Most quoted uncertainty about security in their professional roles as the most significant cause of concern.

“The situation is most severe in rural areas,” said Dr Margaret O’Riordan, Medical Director of ICGP.

“Unless corrective measures are introduced, the current trends in emigration and retirement will result in fewer GPs to treat patients in rural areas in the next ten years. Rural GPs have been hardest hit by austerity. The services patients enjoy in rural locations are not sustainable without restoration of some of the cuts made under FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) or the Rural Practice Allowance, or both.

“Our analysis indicates a high number of GPs coming close to retirement age and many established GPs are very disillusioned with the current situation regarding general practice in Ireland. The difficulty facing the HSE in attracting GPs is only likely to worsen unless these issues are addressed. In this scenario, patients throughout the country, and particularly patients in rural areas, will face increasing difficulty accessing a general practitioner in their local area in the years to come,” she added.

CITY TRIBUNE

Homes threatened by 12-hour gorse fire in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – An extensive gorse fire in the Tonabrocky area this week – which raged for over 12 hours – at one stage threatened a number of houses in the area.

Fire Brigade resources were stretched as they battled on Wednesday evening to contain the fire which burned across several acres before being brought under control in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Fire brigade units from the city, Athenry and Carraroe fought the blaze, which at one point led to fears that residents in nearby houses would have to be evacuated.

Up to six fire tenders were involved in fighting the blaze which is thought to have started around 4 or 5pm on Wednesday – it was one of a series of gorse fires which occurred around the county over the course of the past week.

Fire Brigade personnel fought the blaze through the evening and into the early hours of the morning before eventually having it fully contained by 6am on Thursday morning.

The fire – which sent plumes of smoke several feet into the air and also across local roads – occurred at an area of commonage between Boleybeg and Tonabrocky.

Local councillor, John Connolly, has urged Galway City and County Councils to come together and launch an awareness’ campaign about the dangers of fires during extended periods of dry weather.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the June 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

HSE paid €1.35m over market value for Knocknacarra building

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The HSE has paid €11.85 million for the building to house its new ‘Integrated Care Hub’ in Knockncacarra – which is €1.35m over the open market value of the office block.

Confidential HSE documentation seen by the Galway City Tribune shows that Block A in Galway West Business Park – the former Aviva Insurance building – was independently valued at €10.5m.

The HSE subsequently paid €11.85m for the property.

According to the documentation, the building will cost €14.85m to fit out – however, that figure was based on construction costs in February 2022 and is expected to rise again due to inflation. Just seven months prior to that estimate, the fit-out works were costed at €10.8m.

A planning application is currently being put together for a new ‘Enhanced Primary Care Centre’ in the building, which will house Primary Care Teams as well as a unit for chronic disease management. A total of 105 staff will be based there.

When the matter was brought to the Board of the HSE nationally, they were told the purchase price was €1.3m above market value.

The other option shortlisted by the HSE was a ‘new build’ on lands at Merlin Park – this was costed at €33.1m because it would involve “considerable site upgrade works” and would much longer to deliver.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the June 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Flasher and ‘lewd act’ on beach investigated by Gardaí

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Gardaí in the city are investigating two reported incidents over the weekend of indecent exposure and offensive sexual conduct – one of them at a beach in Salthill and the other in the Eyre Square area.

In the first of the incidents in Eyre Square on Friday last, a man approached a woman at around 5.30pm and exposed himself.

The woman reported the incident to the Gardaí who are carrying out an investigation into what happened.

The second incident – which is understood to be unrelated to the first one – occurred at a busy beach in Salthill on Bank Holiday Monday.

One mother who contacted the Galway City Tribune said that she saw a man ‘writhing up and down in the sand’ before putting his hand down in the front of his Bermuda shorts.

She said that about 10-minutes later, the man moved along to the next beach – which was also crowded with people – while another woman nearby, who saw the same actions, contacted the Gardai.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the June 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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