Deputy Munster received information this week from the HSE in response to parliamentary questions she put on the matter seeking information on the timeline of the project, and whether the new centre will increase the number of GPs in East Meath which is currently experiencing a severe shortage of GP places.
The responses outlined that works on the Primary Care Centre will begin in Q1 of 2022 and the centre is expected to be open in Q4 of 2022. In their responses the HSE did not clarify whether the Primary Care Centre would offer services in addition to those already in East Meath, or whether existing services will merely be moved there. It merely stipulated that two GP practices would be accommodated in the new unit.
Deputy Munster said:
“We have a serious shortage of GPs in East Meath. Tens of thousands of people have moved to the area in the past decade, yet the infrastructure hasn’t been improved to accommodate them.
“Every week in my constituency clinic I hear from constituents who are in the farcical and unacceptable situation of having to travel to Dublin or further afield to receive GP care as there are no places available in local practices.
“I am going to chase this matter up with the HSE as it’s a vital point – if the Primary Care Centre doesn’t increase the number of GPs working in the area, what purpose does it really serve?
“The other issue here is the length of time it will take to become operational. The unit is already there, but it has to be kitted out as a doctor’s surgery. I don’t quite understand how that will take the best part of a year to achieve, especially given the lengthy delays to date with the project.
“I’m going to put these questions to the HSE again, and I expect that this time around I get full answers to the questions put.
“Having to travel outside of your town, and outside of your county or province even for basic medical care is a scandal. We need the Primary Care Centre as soon as possible, and we need it be sure that it will provide additional GP capacity in the East Meath area.”