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Proposing one of two motions, Co Carlow GP Dr Pascal O’Dea said that deprived rural and urban areas are crying out for GPs.
Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley, speaking to a second, similar motion, said funding models must reflect the greater disease burden in deprived areas.
“In south Dublin, there is one GP to 1,200 patients. In the north inner city, an area which has high incidence of deaths from cardiac disease and cancer, there is one-to-3,500-4,000 patients.”
Dr Walley added that the administrative infrastructure already exists to identify practices with a patient population from deprived areas.
Cork City GP Dr Mary Favier said that 80 per cent of her practice’s patients come from some of the most deprived areas in Cork city.
“Our patients aged between 45 and 65 have exactly double the consultation rate of the national average; that is because multimorbidities start earlier,” said Dr Favier. She added that while morale is high among the staff, the work can be challenging.
“Every consultation is more complex; there is never just one problem, even with the kids. We were hardly affected by the under-sixes contract because all ours were GMS anyway.”
Dr Favier supported the introduction of a weighted system, saying that “it would ensure that there are doctors in our practice for the future, because otherwise, there will not be”.
Galway GP Dr John Morris also supported the motion and called for a fee-per-item system for complex consultations, similar to that in Canada, or some other weighted system.