Documents reveal HSE have been calling for reopening of Blackpool SouthDoc

Documents reveal HSE have been calling for reopening of Blackpool SouthDoc

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said that numerous people in the area contacted him over the Christmas period with concerns in relation to the further closure of SouthDoc in Blackpool. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A Cork TD has labelled the continued closure of SouthDoc in Blackpool as a “disgrace” given the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Cork.

Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould said that numerous people in the area contacted him over the Christmas period with concerns in relation to the further closure of SouthDoc in Blackpool.

At the onset of the pandemic, SouthDoc operated out of six centres including Mallow, Bandon, Bantry, Castletownbere, Midleton and Kinsale Road for a number of months until clinics began to reopen across the region in June and early July.

Blackpool SouthDoc services, however, remain shut with correspondence received by Deputy Gould through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request indicating that the HSE has been instructing SouthDoc to reopen the facility since September 18.

The correspondence between Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) and the Director of SouthDoc, which The Echo has seen, confirms SouthDoc’s proposal to keep the Blackpool out-of-hours GP service shut.

An updated restoration of services plan had been sought by CKCH since September 18, with SouthDoc confirming on October 1 that it was “not planning on reopening either Listowel or Blackpool treatment centres”.

“People are very concerned that SouthDoc is still closed. It’s so serious now in this moment in time with the cases we are seeing. To have the SouthDoc Blackpool closed down is actually a public health issue at this stage," Mr Gould said.

The Echo recently learned that calls to SouthDoc over the Christmas period were averaging about 1,600 calls per day.

Approximately 45% of calls to SouthDoc over the Christmas period were Covid-related and 68% of the 1,490 calls made to SouthDoc on Monday, December 28 were Covid-related.

Deputy Gould said that one of the reasons that the HSE instructed SouthDoc to reopen the out-of-hours GP service on the northside of the city was because the HSE “believed that the continued closure would lead to more people presenting to hospitals during the current pandemic”.

“That was back in September and October when the pandemic was no way near as bad as it is now.

“SouthDoc’s continued refusal to reopen is flying in the face of public health advice and what the HSE are looking for, and it’s an actual scandal what they’re doing,” he said.

He said that the Covid-19 crisis is “so severe at the moment, to try to operate it all from Kinsale Road is actually dangerous”.

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