Offaly election hopeful calls for restoration of Midoc services

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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news@offalyexpress.ie

Offaly election hopeful calls for restoration of Midoc services

Offaly election hopeful calls for restoration of Midoc services

Local Election candidate for Birr, Clare Claffey of the Social Democrats, has called on the Health Services Executive to restore the Midoc out of hours GP Service to the town.

Slamming what she called "inaction" on the issue by central and local Government representatives, she said, "this is the number one issue we have been hearing about on the doorsteps."

"The online petition I started last week has almost 1,000 signatures already, and our survey of issues in the area highlighted the lack of primary care services. It’s clearly a problem for many people in the Banagher, Birr and wider west Offaly area, so I honestly can’t understand why no action is being taken."

"As a parent of young children myself, I know first-hand the worry of having a sick child, and the prospect of having to drive for almost an hour in the night to see a doctor is simply frightening. And that’s for the lucky ones who have access to private transport," Clare said.

The Midoc service, provided by local GPs and funded by the HSE, closed without warning in April of last year, following a reduction in opening hours in the months prior to closure.

At a recent Offaly County Council meeting a letter was read out which outlined that the service had been closed due in part to a lack of GPs available to cover the required hours and also due to health and safety concerns.

Claffey reacted to this saying, "it’s well known that there is a problem with the lack of GP cover in Birr. Surely the answer to this is to address this shortfall, rather than further reduce services. It has been claimed that the numbers using Midoc had fallen before its closure. Well, of course, the numbers had fallen, because the hours the service was available had been drastically cut back."

“I am calling on the Government to fulfil its promise to the most vulnerable people in west Offaly – people who are already greatly disadvantaged by a lack of transport and other infrastructure – and restore this vital service to Birr."

“It’s simply misleading to suggest that the problems with Midoc are not related to resources – the lack of GP cover is directly related to the under-funding of primary care services by this Government in recent years. Any health and safety issues related to lone working can also be addressed through a provision of sufficient resources. Withdrawing a vital service is not the answer to these issues.”

Claffey continued: “it’s very disingenuous of the HSE representative to claim, as was reported, that the service is provided by Midoc and not the HSE. The actual structure of the company is not of concern to people who need out of hours doctor assistance. The fact is that this is a Government-funded programme and the taxpayers of rural Ireland are as entitled to quality accessible healthcare as their urban counterparts."

"Slaintecare, the Social Democrats health programme which has received all-party support, aims to build an Irish public health system that the public can rely on, creating a universal, publicly-funded, single-tier health service that invests heavily in primary care and prevention."

"It would involve recruiting thousands more doctors, nurses, speech therapists, public health nurses, etc. One of the key tenets of Slaintecare is the provision of the majority of care at or closer to home," Clare concluded.