Cork TDs have called for answers on the “totally unacceptable” continued closure of out-of-hours GP services on the northside of Cork City.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil TD Pádraig O’Sullivan and Solidarity TD Mick Barry, questioned Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly about the continued closure of SouthDoc in Blackpool.
People in Cork City must travel to the Kinsale Road centre if they need to be assessed by an out-of-hours GP service.
Mr O’Sullivan said that there is an “urgent need” for a second facility in the second largest city in the country.
“According to doctors practicing locally, people have had to walk for miles for the one operational service which is situated at an industrial estate of the Kinsale Road Roundabout in the south side of the city,” he said.
“While it is accessible by car, many of the people I’ve spoken with do not drive, the route is difficult for them to access on public transport, and the cost of getting a taxi is becoming an issue for them,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
Mr O’Sullivan stressed the urgency for an out-of-hours GP service for the people of the northside, and suggested that St Mary’s Campus in Gurranabraher be looked at as a potential facility for SouthDoc in the event that the Blackpool centre cannot be opened.
He said that a service in that area “could also provide for the people of Tower, Blarney, Grenagh, and Whitechurch”.
Mr Donnelly said that Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has written to and met with SouthDoc on the issue, requesting that the reopening of the Blackpool centre is prioritised.
“Cork Kerry Community Healthcare have also requested a plan for SouthDoc for the reinstatement of services and a timeline for this,” he said.
“While a timeline has not yet been received, the closure has been confirmed as temporary in nature.
“SouthDoc have assured the HSE that every possible effort has been made, and will continue to be made, to avoid or minimise any impact on patients due to the temporary closures.”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry called the situation “unacceptable” for the people on the northside of the city and beyond who “have to travel to the other side of the city for out-of-hours GP care”.
“I note the point that’s been raised by SouthDoc in reply to Cork Kerry Community Healthcare that this is temporary — but the question is how temporary?” he said.
“And if and when facilities are reinstated, can we have a guarantee that that’s not going to be a skeleton service with no cars going out to visit people in the community and just someone on the other side of the phone taking notes?
“The people of the northside and beyond deserve a full, comprehensive, fully staffed out-of-hours GP service.”
Mr Donnelly said that he understands that the situation is “very frustrating for the people in the north of the city” and “frustrating that a timeline has not been provided” by SouthDoc, but said that he will follow up with the HSE “as to when we will get a timeline”.
Mr Donnelly also said that nothing has been brought to his attention suggesting that a “smaller or more limited service is what would be opened up” upon the reinstatement of services.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould also raised the closure of Blackpool SouthDoc with the Taoiseach earlier this week, when Mr Martin said he would “engage with the HSE” on the issue.