I would like to assure residents in the Ballysloe and Gortnahoe areas that progress is being made in retaining a full-time General Practitioner in the area.

I have spoken with officials in the HSE who have now agreed to re-advertise the post in question and have advised medical card holders that they can remain with their current GP, Dr. Fitzpatrick, until a replacement is secured for him.

There was a huge outpouring of concern and anger in Gortnahoe when it was announced that no replacement had been secured for Dr. Fitzpatrick. Over 650 medical card holders where left in an incredibly difficult situation; not alone would they be losing an excellent medical profession who was familiar with the intricacies of their case, but they would face considerable cost, disruption, and upheaval in having to travelling to neighbouring towns to avail of health care. There was also huge concern as to what would become of the health centres in both Gortnahoe and Ballysloe.

I immediately contacted the HSE on this issue and have now received assurances that they will be making every effort to ensure that a full time GP is secured to replace Dr. Fitzpatrick. Medical card holders in the area do not now need to nominate an alternative GP as they can stay with Dr. Fitzpatrick until a replacement is found.

I believe that we are now on the way to finding a solution to this problem.