Rural Mayo losing 'basic community services' as Lahardane GP clinic closes

Independent election candidate Harry Barrett has hit out at the Government, and at Fianna Fail in particular, for failing to secure a primary care physician for Lahardane ahead of the position becoming vacant on October 1.

According to the HSE, meanwhile, the post was advertised twice this year ahead of the current GP, Dr Enda Loftus, taking up a vacant position in Crossmolina, but no one applied for it.

As a result, residents in Lahardane will see their GP service switched to Deel Medical Centre in Crossmolina from Monday, a moved described by the HSE as the best option available given the lack of interest in the Lahardane vacancy.

"It is absolutely shocking that the people of Lahardane will be left without their local GP from next week," Mr Barrett said yesterday. "This Government, and Fianna Fáil representatives in particular, should be ashamed of how the loss of this community doctor will now affect the 1,000 medical card and private patients in the Lahardane area."

Mr Barrett said the move will also put pressure on the Crossmolina service, while forcing people in Lahardane to travel 10km to access primary care.

"This will put a massive burden on the two GPs already in Crossmolina and will put further pressure now on primary care services in Crossmolina, especially out-of hours," he said. "Where was the loud vocal protest at the HSE Forum West meetings? Why was this not raised as an urgent matter in the Dáil? We have a Fianna Fáil Minister for Health, so the issue lies squarely with them.

"Political representatives have known since 2019 that this day would come and absolutely nothing has been done about it. It's as if it was always the plan. It is very telling that not a single local TD attended either of the community meetings to discuss the issue, obviously afraid to meet the people.

"This shocking neglect of the people of Lahardane has to be fought all the way, because this village represents hundreds of other villages around the country that are on the verge of losing their local GP. This backward step will inevitably lead now to more patients having to rely on Westdoc out-of-hours and then having to present to Accident and Emergency in Castlebar because of shocking waiting times associated with that service at the weekends.

"Lahardane has lost its Garda station, its local dispensary and now its local doctor. This Government seems unable to provide rural areas in Mayo with the basic community services they have enjoyed for decades. This has to be stopped, it has to change, if rural villages are to thrive."

At a HSE Regional Health Forum meeting this week, Saolta University Health Care Group CEO Tony Canavan reiterated that the vacant position has attracted no applications or interest, despite being advertised twice.

"The Lahardaun position has been advertised on two occasions without success," Mr Canavan said in a written response to a question from Cllr Martin McLoughlin. "No enquiries or applications were received on either occasion.

"Discussions took place with the GPs in Lahardaun and Crossmolina to consider the options available for maintaining a GP service to the people of Lahardaun following the departure of the current GP. The outcome of those discussions was to provide a service from a two doctor GP practice in Crossmolina, which is less than 10 kilometres away. While this may cause inconvenience for a number of patients in Lahardaun, it is considered the best option available to the HSE due to its inability to fill the position in Lahardaun despite making efforts to do so."

 

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