The fabric of rural Ireland is under threat. Five years of austerity and recession triggered a surge in emigration that has accelerated rural depopulation and also impacted the confidence, vibrancy and cohesion of many rural communities. Rural Ireland has been hit hard by the loss of basic services including post offices, schools and Garda stations. With the gradual disappearance of these services, the quality and sustainability of life in rural areas is undermined and a lack of commitment and investment in initiatives such as rural broadband has further eroded social and economic viability. Access to quality primary health care is fundamental to the well-being of our communities, but like other essential services in rural Ireland, the GP service is under threat with the recent loss of the service in Feakle and difficulty filling the Kildysart post.
No Doctor No Village is a grassroots campaign based in County Clare that has grown organically in response to the crisis in rural general practice resulting from government neglect of the rural healthcare system. The loss of GP services is often the final nail in the coffin for many small towns and villages. Not only do health outcomes of rural patients suffer in the absence of a GP who knows and cares for them, but cases that might be treated in the community instead appear in hospitals and A&E, unnecessarily and inefficiently stretching these services to the limit. Money wisely and strategically invested in primary care is good for the patient, for the wider health service, and ultimately for the survival of our rural communities.
No Doctor No Village has repeatedly called on the Government to extend a lifeline to rural General Practice and make strategic investments in rural primary health care. We are not satisfied with the Government’s response and therefore decided to put forward an independent candidate – Dr. Michael Harty – for Clare in the General Election to bring our issues to the Dàil. We are determined that our rural communities in Clare will have timely access to a high quality primary health care because we believe it is the cornerstone to vibrant and sustainable rural communities. While No Doctor No Village is rooted in the issue of health care, we are actively collaborating with a diverse group of rural stakeholders to ensure our campaign fights for the broader social and economic viability of the rural Ireland so that families aspire to stay and invest their future in our communities.