Some people in Offaly cannot access a GP service as a new patient, and those who are already registered with a practice, are often left waiting up to two weeks to access an appointment with their local doctor.
That's according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) who are warning that within the next five to seven years, 26% of Offaly GPs are due to retire.
Throughout the country, almost 700 GPs are due for retirement in the next couple of years according to the IMO, and younger GPs are choosing to leave the country due to the cuts introduced by FEMPI (financial emergency measures in the public interest) in favour of better working conditions overseas.
Dr Martin Daly, IMO GP committee midlands representative, said the current crisis facing the GP profession was something that was highlighted 10 years ago but the politicians didn't listen.
“Due to FEMPI being introduced in 2009 (which saw cuts of up to 38 per cent), we are seeing many practices now becoming insolvent. GPs are working harder than ever, but they can't afford to bring in new young GPs to help with the workload.
“Young GPs are choosing to emigrate overseas to the UK, Canada and Austalia, where working conditions and pay are better. This means a lack of depth in the services GPs can provide, and when GPs retire, it's increasingly difficult to fill those posts. The result is that GP practices are closing no matter how viable they look on paper.
“GP practices are not taking on new patients, so you have communities and areas that are increasing in population, but people cannot sign on with a GP in their area. This is not only affecting rural areas but disadvantaged urban areas too.
“This spells increasing disaster for hospital emergency departments which are already at breaking point with regard to overcrowding. General practice and primary care are the backbone of our health service and they are being left behind.
“Many GPs will tell you that they are unable to access holidays or sick leave because they cannot get young GPs or locums to cover them. And it's the same right throughout Offaly, Westmeath and east Galway,” he said.
The IMO organisation has been contacting TDs and running a social media campaign in an attempt to push the Government to reverse FEMPI.