SouthDoc, the out-of-hours GP service for Cork, this afternoon contacted GPs seeking “urgent” cover, saying it was down two doctors at its Kinsale Road base this evening due to illness.
The service sent a text to GPs in Cork shortly after 4pm seeking “urgent” cover, with the shift due to start at 6pm, The Echo can reveal.
“Due to illness, two doctors required,” the text message read.
A local Cork GP told The Echo that the incident highlights the lack of contingency plans in cases where GPs become ill or have to self-isolate according to Covid-19 regulations.
The doctor said general practice clinics feel forced to put their own contingency plans in place should a GP need to self isolate.
"So, two hours before a shift starts, there is panic to get GPs to cover the out-of-hours," he added.
It is not the first time in recent months that the service has urgently sought replacement doctors at short notice.
Just last month, two text messages were sent to GPs across Cork city, seeking urgent assistance at the Kinsale Road SouthDoc centre.
One text sent at 5.40pm on August 1 said help was "required urgently" at the centre.
A second text message, sent at 7pm, revealed SouthDoc is "extremely busy".
"Can anyone help out please even for a couple of hours?", read the message.
SouthDoc, the GP out-of-hours service in Cork and Kerry, has been making headlines in the Rebel County in recent months amid staff shortages, increased demand and threats of strike action.
More than 220,000 calls were made to the SouthDoc service in Cork in 2019.
In a letter to GPs in the region, SouthDoc general manager Maire Hussey acknowledged that 2019 was a “particularly challenging year” for the service.
She cited HSE funding, the availability of doctors, and increased service demand as the main issues facing SouthDoc.