The Irish Medical Organisation has warned that exhausted doctors have been unable to take a break due to recruitment difficulties.
It also says that levels of burnout and stress among medical professionals is unsustainably high.
Newstalk Breakfast reporter Josh Crosbie spoke to Dr Patrick Malone, who worked as a GP in Sneem, Co Kerry for 34 years.
Dr Malone recently had to come out of retirement as no one else was available.
He says: "Despite that I was retired for good, I found I had to re-register and get re-insured to do two weeks here.
"It's quite an onerous task really; although the population is relatively small, the on-call commitment is huge."
Dr Malone says he gave the HSE "a long notice" ahead of his planned retirement, and a local campaign also sought to fill the post.
Dr Hernan Ganzo was then appointed to Sneem, which has a catchment area of up to 1,000 people.
Dr Ganzo says: "I liked rural medicine, I'm not really interested in practice in a big city - what I was doing in Spain.
"It could be demanding, in the aspect that you need to be available constantly. And sometimes it's hard".
One local woman says: "I think there could be more - we have a great GP here in Sneem.
"He's a man, OK, so women sometimes want women healthcare workers.
"We've real trouble to recruit the doctor here in Sneem".
While there are hopes to open a primary health care service in the town of Cahersiveen in the next year.
'A critical situation'
But local Fianna Fáil counciullor Norma Moriarty says GPs are under too much pressure.
"There was a time when you had six GPs covering the area between Cahersiveen, Valentia, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs, Waterville - out as far as Caherdaniel.
"That area's now covered by three GPs, and each of those three GPs is in the older age bracket - they wouldn't mind me saying that.
"Effectively they are, each of them, considering their retirement in the next number of years.
"So we have a critical situation on our hands, and I've been working with the HSE to see if we can actually put structures in place that will attract replacement GPs".
She says essential services, such as these, influence whether people want to live there.
"People who want to retire here, maybe, from other countries - how far they are from critical care services factors into a decision that they might make".