Interviews for the appointment of a permanent GP in Newmarket-on-Fergus will be held over the next two to three weeks, Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has been informed.


Deputy Carey, who has been campaigning for the position to be filled since the retirement of long-serving local doctor Colm Hackett last May, has been told by HSE Primary Care Services Manager Angela Frawley that moves are under way to provide a local GP service until the new appointment is finalised.


Dr Yvonne Williams of the Shannon Medical Centre has been treating Dr Hackett’s GMS patients as an interim measure but Deputy Carey has been pressing for an out-reach GP service to be provided in Newmarket-on-Fergus until a full-time GP is in situ. He said that such a service was vital because having to travel to Shannon was difficult for older people and those with disabilities, particularly with such poor public transport connections.


“This week he was told by Ms Frawley that she will liaise with Dr Hackett early next week in relation to the possibility of Dr Williams using his premises for the provision of some level of services to patients in Newmarket on Fergus.


In relation to the recruitment of a permanent GP in Newmarket on Fergus, I can confirm that interviews will be held either week beginning January 20 or January 27,” she added.


Deputy Carey has criticised the manner in which the appointment process has been handled by the HSE ever since a provisional agreement with a new GP broke down last September.


“The outdated system of appointing GPs is far too cumbersome and takes months on end.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 last May but the panel wasn’t advertised until last March and the initial appointment only confirmed in June”.


“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,” he said at the time.


Last month, Ms Frawley informed Deputy Carey that the closing date for applications for the position was December 12 and there were a number of steps to be completed in the recruitment process, including occupational health assessment, Garda clearance and medical indemnity.


She added that the successful candidate may also have to secure accommodation for their practice which could be arranged very quickly or could take a number of months, so it was difficult to provide a definitive date for when a doctor could be in place.


“I am currently engaging with Dr Williams to ascertain if it is possible for her to provide some level of service from Newmarket on Fergus and will keep you updated on progress on this.


“This is at the top of our agenda and we are working towards having a GP in place as soon as possible,” Ms Frawley concluded.