Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has taken the HSE to task over what he described as its “outdated and cumbersome” system of appointing GPs which has resulted in the Newmarket-on-Fergus area being left without a family doctor.

A new GP, appointed to succeed long-serving local doctor Colm Hackett, was scheduled to take up duty in Newmarket-on-Fergus on Monday last.The process had taken a number of months and an interim arrangement was put in place with Dr. Yvonne Williams, Shannon Medical Centre providing medical services to Dr. Hackett’s GMS patients until the position was filled on a full time basis.

However, because of a sudden illness, the new GP was unable to take up duty. The recruitment process has been revived and Dr Williams will continue to treat patients in the Newmarket catchment area at the Shannon Medical Centre.

Expressing disappointment at the HSE handling of the matter, Deputy Carey said that the “outdated system of appointing GPs is far too cumbersome and takes months on end.

“The HSE had been aware for some time that Dr Hackett would be retiring on May 22 last, but the panel wasn’t advertised until last March and the appointment confirmed in June.

“People have the utmost sympathy for the doctor who was unable to take up her appointment and wish her a speedy and complete recovery. However the HSE’s communication on the issue is a shambles. It was widely known that Dr Hackett was retiring and plans to replace him should have been well advanced by prior to his departure.

“There is huge concern and anger in Newmarket On Fergus over this issue. Despite her best efforts, it’s extremely difficult to secure same day appointments with Dr Williams and it’s an added burden for Newmarket on Fergus people to travel to Shannon.

“It’s very important that the HSE would publicly communicate their plans to recruit a new GP for Newmarket and that every effort would be made by them to fast track an appointment”, Deputy Carey concluded.