PUBLIC representatives have begun questioning the wisdom of closing some SouthDoc centres in Cork during the coronavirus outbreak.
The out-of-hours GP service is to close some clinics across Cork as part of contingency plans to keep the service in operation over the coming weeks.
It will see SouthDoc operate from seven treatment centres across the south west - Bandon, Bantry, Mallow, Midleton, Kinsale Road roundabout, Killarney and Tralee.
Other centres will be locked down and sterilised as necessary. These include Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Blackpool, Dunmanway, Fermoy, Kanturk, Macroom, Skibbereen and Youghal.
An email sent to GPs in the region from Joanne Montgomery, chair of the SouthDoc board, informed doctors that each doctor rostered for duty will attend the one covering that area.
For example, doctors covering Blackpool will instead go to Kinsale Road, while Macroom doctors will work from Bandon when on duty in SouthDoc.
"We are in unprecedented times," said Ms Montgomery.
"We are doing this to protect the health of us the members and our staff and thus being able to provide a continued service," she added.
"The reason for the consolidation of treatment centres is we expect reduction in staff and doctor numbers as time goes on due to illness/self-isolation."
However, Labour TD Sean Sherlock has said the decision to close the Fermoy SouthDoc branch is perplexing.
"This is causing major upset and GPs themselves are perplexed by this decision," he said.
"As a funder of the service, the HSE must put pressure on the board of SouthDoc to change this decision.
"We have yet to see the evidence at this time that the services that were to be redeployed to Mallow and Midleton have actually been redeployed.
"This decision raises more questions than it answers. I do not see any logic for this. The reasons given don’t appear on the face of it to stand up to scrutiny.“
Cork city councillor Ken O'Flynn has questioned the decision to close the Blackpool SouthDoc centre.
"I have written to the board of SouthDoc requesting that they reverse the decision. I have spoken with some local GPs. They are very concerned about this move."