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According to the Association, which says it represents over 2,000 GPs, the funding will be necessary to hire locum GPs and nurses from overseas during the winter months.
NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey said: “Ireland will need to hire an extra 500 GPs and 500 nurses to support primary care during the flu season. The hospitals are working at full capacity and have already commenced cancelling routine operations. When they become overwhelmed during the winter months, the HSE will advise patients to go back to see their GPs, but the GPs are already working over and above what is considered safe.”
Latest figures available show that 7,765 patients were treated on hospital trolleys in September. The NAGP expects this figure to rise dramatically over the coming months.
In January 2016, there were 9,345 patients on trolleys. In January 2017, there were 10,365. January 2018 saw the figure rise to 12,201.
“It is reasonable to assume that there will be 14,000 people on trolleys in our hospital next January, and many patients will die unnecessarily,” said Mr Goodey. “We urge the Government to make provisions for the flu season now and ensure that patients are treated with dignity and respect in a safe environment. The only way to do this is to put adequate emergency resources into GP practices to facilitate recruitment of the extra staff required.”
Mr Goodey added: “Many of our members are already working at extraordinary levels of activity and extraordinarily long hours. The NAGP is advising GPs to work to safe levels of activity.
“When the epidemic hits over the coming months they will not be in a position to see any more patients, which is why we are calling for this emergency funding to hire extra GPs and nurses from abroad.”