GPs across Cork and Ireland are expecting an “avalanche” of coronavirus cases in the coming days, according to a GP in West Cork.
Dr Paul O’Sullivan was speaking on Saturday morning, as the HSE’s healthlink referral service, allowing GPs to refer patients for Covid-19 testing, went live.
Concerns had been raised in recent weeks about delays faced by GPs in trying to access tests for patients.
GPs were facing hour long delays on the phone to HSE officials as they sought coronavirus tests for patients, according to Dr O’Sullivan.
The Bantry GP told The Echo family doctors across Ireland are being inundated with calls from concerned patients seeking tests to determine whether or not they may have the coronavirus.
He warned that the phone line service was untenable as GPs expect an “avalanche” of cases in the coming days.
Dr O’Sullivan explained that the new healthlink service should be a help for GPs facing the pandemic.
“It should get rid of the current queues we’re facing,” he said.
“It will now be up to the National Ambulance Service to arrange for a patient to go to a swab centre for a test, or if the patient cannot do that, to send a paramedic out to them for testing.”
Dr O’Sullivan also said GPs are preparing for possible closures amid the coronavirus outbreak, which could be contracted by themselves and staff members.
“GPs are starting to plan as well for colleagues and practices in the locality closing due to illness,” he said.
“This outbreak is going to go on for the next few months and the risk is cumulative - as in, the more cases that are seen irrespective of protection, the greater the risk and chances of catching the condition.
“The Americans call it ‘last man standing protocol’,” he added.