SOUTHDOC in Cork is under increasing pressure and government policies are not helping, a Cork GP has claimed.
SouthDoc saw almost 14,000 patients between December 22 and January 1 and also saw a 7.5% increase in the number of children under six attending compared to the same time last year.
SouthDoc provided around 187,000 consultations in 2014. This rose to almost 220,00 in 2018.
GPs in Cork received a text message last Sunday evening requesting help for SouthDoc in Blackpool, the second-biggest treatment centre after it was fully booked by patients from 6pm until 11pm.
“We are seeing ongoing pressure on the GP out-of-hours service,” said Dr Nick Flynn.
“Although attendance over Christmas this year was similar to 2017, it is important to remember that 2017 saw an increase from 2016 in the same period of 46%.
“This is occurring on the backdrop of an ageing general practice workforce where retiring GPs are not being replaced.”
Government policy is not helping the situation, according to Dr Flynn, who highlighted the free medical cards for children under six as a prime example.
“Since the introduction of the under six scheme we are seeing these children attending far more often, up to 100% more often in some cases, without any improvement in their health outcomes,” he said.
“GPs around the country are reporting that their daytime appointments are full up to two weeks in advance which means that the daytime service has little capacity to deal with urgent problems or people who fall sick on the day.
“These patients then end up in SouthDoc where before they would have been seen by their own GP during the day.”