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Muff meets today over doc shortage 04.03.12

by Damian Dowds, Inishowen Independent

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Muff today (Sunday, March 4) to address the inconsistent service at the local health centre where weekly GP visits have been reduced to fortnightly visits – or worse – over the past year.
“Muff has had a weekly visit from a GP for countless years, but it has been hit and miss for months now,” said local resident, Mary Porter. “Now, we’re lucky to have a doctor here every fortnight.”
Last Wednesday's clinic at Muff was cancelled, with a handwritten note posted in the window of the health centre saying it was due to staff shortages.
Questions put to the HSE about the nature of the staff shortage, and the issue of GP services at Muff Health Centre, had not been answered at time of going to press on Wednesday.
Mary Porter said that she went to the Muff Medical Centre last Wednesday fortnight for treatment for an ongoing ailment, but the clinic was closed.
“I have no car and had to arrange a lift to go to Buncrana the following day.
“I had to be taken out of my bed and when I went to Buncrana I spent an hour and a half waiting to see a doctor – and half of the patients in the waiting room beside me were from Muff.
“Why should we all have to go to Buncrana, when the medical centre there is already very busy as it is? Why can a doctor not come to Muff for three hours once a week?”
She added that travelling to Buncrana from Muff was very difficult for people, like herself, who didn’t have their own transport. Some people have had to pay for taxis to take them.
Gleneely-based TD Charlie McConalogue said: “It’s important that people have access to health services in their local area.
Mary Porter outside Muff Health Centre.
“GP outreach clinics perform a very important role in the community and are important for those who find it more difficult to travel. Such clinics have worked very well for Muff and other communities in the past and I will do everything I can in engaging with the HSE and GP practices to try to ensure that a regular service is provided locally for people in Muff.”
A GP from the Buncrana Health Centre is supposed to attend a clinic at the Muff Health Centre every Wednesday from 10-12.30pm. However, for the past several months GPs have only attended on a fortnightly basis, and occasionally would miss three consecutive clinics.
Today's meeting in St Mary’s Hall will run from 3pm-4pm and everyone who wants to retain a GP service at Muff is asked to attend. Public representatives have been invited.
“We’re not asking for a lot,” Mary Porter said. “We can’t let this go on any longer. There are several doctors in Buncrana and we want them to release a doctor to Muff for three hours on a Wednesday.”
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