THE out-of-hours GP service in Cork is stumbling from “crisis to crisis” at the moment, according to a Cork GP who has questioned the service’s management.
Dr Nick Flynn was speaking after staffing issues at SouthDoc, the out-of-hours service in Cork, were thrown into the spotlight once again this week.
GPs in Cork city received a text message from SouthDoc on Thursday evening asking for “urgent cover” for its Kinsale Rd base.
The text went out shortly before 5.50pm, with the SouthDoc shift scheduled to start at 6pm.
A second text declaring “URGENT” was sent to GPs at 6.16pm, indicating that cover was still required at the base.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr Flynn said questions have to be asked over the management of the service, when such issues are becoming “recurring problems”.
“The first text came through at around 5.50pm, minutes before the shift is supposed to start,” he said.
“Then the tone augments and becomes more urgent at 6.16pm.
“I don’t know what happened yesterday but they surely should know before then if they need replacement doctors, unless of course people are calling in sick at very short notice,” he added.
“Things are bad right across the healthcare system at the moment but I would have questions about the SouthDoc management’s ability to operate the service.
“There are recurring problems in SouthDoc, both in the county and city, and you have to ask, what are management doing to address these?
“The service is just going from crisis to crisis at the moment.”
It was revealed in recent days that the Departments of Justice and Health have agreed changes designed to address the staffing crisis in out-of-hours GP services.
Regulations will reportedly be loosened in the cases of many overseas locum doctors, making it easier for out-of-hours co-ops to hire GPs, particularly for night cover.
At present, locum GPs have to remain in Ireland for 90 consecutive days, then have to leave the State for 30 days before applying to work here again.
Under the changes revealed this week, locums may reapply immediately after the 90-day period has elapsed, though they still have to be outside the State to do this.
It remains to be seen whether the changes in regulation will have a positive impact on SouthDoc.
SouthDoc has been contacted for comment by The Echo.