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25 March 2019
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Crisis in Irish mental health services is also a crisis in general practice, says the Irish College of General Practitioners

Dr John O'Brien, Vice President, ICGP

The crisis in mental health services in Ireland has become a crisis in general practice according to the Irish College of General Practice (ICGP), which presented a detailed submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Mental Health in relation to GP-led primary care expansion on Thursday 14 December.

"Every day, people who are troubled by mental health problems attend GP-led teams", said Dr Brian Osborne, Director of the Mental Health Programme, ICGP.

"GPs are the first port of call for many persons experiencing mental health difficulties, including symptoms of depression, when person feel suicidal, anxiety disorders, addiction problems, body image disorders, and behavioural symptoms in dementia. Furthermore, GPs provide physical and psychological support to those persons with life-long mental health conditions such as schizophrenia."

"But there is a crisis in the mental health services, with GPs unable to give sufficient time to these presentations, where patients cannot access specialist psychiatric units, where there are no specialist units for children, and where patients in crisis have no choice but to attend Emergency Departments (EDs) and leave out of fear or frustration is also a crisis in general practice. Without the reversal of the FEMPI cuts, a new contract, and a genuine commitment to the funding required to expand primary care, GPs will not have the capacity to protect or care for our patients with mental health issues." 

"The ICGP has consistently raised the crisis in ED services and access to diagnostics for patients requiring urgent care. It is in the area of mental health - where patients are most vulnerable and most at risk - that the draconian cuts in health funding during the recession had the most tragic effects. Time to talk properly with people has been progressively stripped out of our system of care, as a result of years of cuts in GP-led primary care", said Dr Brendan O'Shea, Director of the Post-graduate Resource Centre. 

Click here for the ICGP's submission document

A webcast of the presentation is available here (from 0:22:05) on the Oireachtas website.

Media queries

Aileen O'Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners
Tel. 01 5175311 / 087 2239830, email: