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Overworked GPs an indicator of failed health service

20 December, 2004

Sinn Féin candidate for the Meath by-election, Councillor Joe Reilly has described a survey on GPs working hours and their inability to give full medical information to patients, as a "further indication of a failed and discredited health service".

The survey found that 61% of General Practitioners do not have the time to fully explain the details about prescribed medicines to patients, and further revealed that a GPs average working week is between 70 - 90 hours. The survey was commissioned by the Irish Patients' Association and conducted by MORI.

Speaking this afternoon Cllr Reilly said:

"This survey clearly exposes the failure of the Fianna Fáil/PD Government to deliver on its promise in the 'National' Health Strategy to develop Primary Care as the mainstay of the health service. As the first point of contact with patients, the GP system is under severe strain and like the A&E units in our hospitals they are finding it extremely difficult to manage with the numbers of patients attending.

"This mornings report presents a gloomy assessment of the state of the medical profession. The survey reveals that 6 out of 10 family doctors are unable to give their patients full information on prescribed medication because of the sheer volume of patients. This is a wholly unacceptable situation with many people leaving a doctor‚s surgery without receiving vital instructions on how to use their medicine.

"45% of GPs have advised patients to speak with their pharmacist about their medicine. However, many patients only feel comfortable speaking in confidence with their GP about a medical condition. 44% of GPs have advised patients to use the Internet, even though many people have no access to a computer.

"The sheer volume of hours worked by GPs (on average between 70-90 hours per week) is a clear sign that they are overstretched. Even with such long work hours, many GPs are unable to fully explain the details of prescribed medication to patients.

"Once again the Irish people are forced to endure a second class and second rate health system. The people of this state demand a first class health system, where they are not forced to languish on trolleys or forced to leave their doctor‚s surgery without knowing how many tablets to take. Investment in primary health care and more GPs are required if we are to redress the years of under-funding and neglect." ENDS

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