A Cork TD has labelled SouthDoc’s decision not to reopen its out-of-hours GP service in Blackpool as “scandalous” following confirmation earlier this week that the service would reopen.
Sinn Féin's Thomas Gould slammed the decision not to reopen services on the northside of the city after receiving correspondence from the HSE and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirming that the centre would reopen on January 18.
In a letter dated January 15, Minister Donnelly acknowledged the important issue affecting Deputy Gould’s constituents and informed him that Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) had been advised by SouthDoc management that the Blackpool centre will be in operation from January 18.
He confirmed that SouthDoc advised that they would “contact the HSE if there is any change to that plan”.
However, in a statement issued by SouthDoc on Friday evening, it was confirmed that SouthDoc would “continue to deliver the service in a consolidated format until the current wave has abated”.
In a statement, SouthDoc said that the situation “has deteriorated dramatically” since discussions were had with the HSE in December and that what was planned “had since been superseded by events”.
The statement read: “In the interests of patient, staff and doctor safety, it is vital that any risks are minimised by SouthDoc and that we continue to deliver the service in a consolidated format until the current wave has abated.”
A spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare told The Echo that it was "informed verbally" of SouthDoc's decision.
"We were informed verbally this afternoon that SouthDoc has today changed its position and has decided not to resume this level of service at this time in the context of the sharp increase in Covid-19 numbers.
"We are concerned at SouthDoc’s lack of consultation with the HSE on this decision. We are seeking further information as to what led to this decision and assurance from SouthDoc that it will now be reviewed in the context of the extraordinary pressure that all health services are under at this time.
"We are committed to ensuring that appropriate out-of-hours GP services are available to medical card holders in both areas," the spokesperson said.
Cork North-Central TD Thomas Gould said that the decision "is simply not good enough" and that the people on the northside of Cork city and surrounding areas "cannot be treated like second class citizens".
“We need a fully operational out-of-hours doctors service.
“There are serious questions here about the ability of SouthDoc to provide a service to the people of Cork and Kerry. The HSE themselves have confirmed that they disagree with this decision. They were only told on the Friday before Southdoc was due to reopen on Monday.
“The treatment of the HSE by SouthDoc has been disgraceful. We cannot allow private operators to behave in this way and essentially deny healthcare provision to certain areas of Cork city and Kerry,” he said.
He said that Minister Stephen Donnelly and the Taoiseach "now need to send a clear message that an operator which receives €7.3 million in state funding annually cannot behave in this way".
“They must tell SouthDoc to reopen Blackpool and Listowel. I will fight this closure tooth and nail as I have done for months now. The people of the northside of Cork city and surrounding areas will continue to have this raised by me in the Dáil chamber, with the HSE and with SouthDoc themselves," he said.