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Vacant GP jobs show scale of rural crisis

Dara Bradley

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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

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash

Enda Cunningham

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A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.

At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.

The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salthill Garda Station (091) 514 720 the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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