Payments of €750,000 since July 2020, to provide GP locum cover for Achill is a sharp reminder of failed Government health policy, according to Mayo Deputy Rose Conway Walsh.

The Deputy says it's  an abomination to tax payers who see their money being wasted because of lack of workforce planning.

Achill, she claims, is symptomatic of a wider shortage of GPs across the state but particularly in rural areas.

Deputy Conway Walsh claims the number of medical places in higher education should have been increased years ago, but it's now imperative that it's done as a matter of urgency.

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Higher Education has again called on Minister Harris to increase the number of students studying for medicine.

A high proportion of medical places are taken up with International Students who pay very large fees to Universities and fill the funding gap generated by the chronic lack of funding for the third level sector. Only about half of the 1,353 places in medicine each year go to students from Ireland.

She is calling on a reform of the system so that young people from rural areas are encouraged to pursue medicine and practice in their own area.

Graduate Entry Medicine is an alternative route into studying medicine that has a potential to be a pathway for a wider group of people. However, it is a route that is out of reach for most students and families due to costs and lack of supports. Fees are approximately €15,000 per year.

Speaking to Midwest News Editor Teresa O'Malley the Deputy said three quarters of a million euro for locum cover in Achill is a significant sum and the Government must make plans to address the problem:

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