Hospital services are a “major concern” to general practice as doctors struggle to get their patients seen, it has been claimed.
Concerns have been raised by GPs about major difficulties in accessing hospital services.
The chairman of the GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Dr Denis McCauley, said that while more patients are coming forward, there are further “pinch points” developing in the hospital system.
He said the provision of non-Covid services in the hospital is “still a major issue”.
“One of the big workload issues we’re having at the present moment in general practice is trying to get services for people – some with cancer – in the hospital,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.
“Non-Covid services in hospitals are not up to a level that I would feel are safe and that I would be comfortable with.
“They (patients) are presenting but the pinch points are developing further down the system.
“Naturally if you have cancer, it’s really important that you are seen quickly.”
He said reports of GPs struggling to get their patients seen is widespread.
“I think hospital services really are a major concern to general practice, it’s taking up a lot of our time and it’s causing very significant worry and morbidity in our populations,” he added.
Dr McCauley also said that the GP workforce is getting older. There are currently 2,500 GPs across the country with 1,000 of them over 55 and 500 over 65 years of age.
“In the next four to five years 20% of the population is going to retire,” he warned.
“If you increase the workload in general practice it will have very significant consequences. One of the big gems that we have in general practice in Ireland is we still have the same day service, and anything that increases that capacity will put us in danger.”