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Logic behind the closure of SouthDoc centres in Cork called into question

Sherlock - 'This is causing major upset and GPs themselves are perplexed by the move'


The SouthDoc centre in the grounds of Fermoy Hospital is among those closed down by the service

The SouthDoc centre in the grounds of Fermoy Hospital is among those closed down by the service

The SouthDoc centre in the grounds of Fermoy Hospital is among those closed down by the service

The HSE has been urged to bring pressure to bear on South Doc to reverse its controversial decision to close down a number of its centres, including those in Fermoy, Kanturk and Macroom.

In a statement SouthDoc said that, due to the ongoing effects being experienced by as a result of COVID-19, it has implemented a "consolidated model of out of hours service delivery", which came into effect as of last Saturday morning.

As a result, its centres in Fermoy, Kanturk and Macroom as well as others around the county have been locked down, leaving SouthDoc operating from just six centres in Cork - Mallow, Bandon, Bantry, Castletownbere, Midleton and Kinsale Road.

In Kerry, the service will be operating out of centres in Killarney, Tralee, Dingle and Caherciveen.

In an email to members, SouthDoc board chair Joanne Montgomery said the closed centres would be "locked up and sterile in case required".

"We are in unprecedented times. We are doing this to protect the health of us, the members, and our staff and thus being able to provide a continued service," wrote Ms Montgomery.

"The reason for the consolidation in treatment centres is we expect a reduction in staff and doctor numbers as times goes on due to illness/self isolation."

The statement posted on the SouthDoc website moved to reassure the patients they would be dealt with and that "no patients will be left untreated" as a result of the closures.

"SouthDoc is conscious of the inconvenience this may cause you. However, it is both necessary and in the best interests of all concerned,"it read.

It went on to say that all calls would be dealt with in the first instance by advice from a doctor and, should a consultation be required, patients will be asked to go to a treatment centre and, after checking in, wait outside the building until they are called.

"This measure is to ensure the protection of the health and wellbeing of the doctor, the patient and staff. Under no circumstances will any person be allowed access to a treatment centre without first speaking to a doctor," read the statement.

"All contact to the service remains unchanged at 1850 335 999."

Cork East TD Seán Sherlock was among a number of public representatives to question closure of the centres.

"This is causing major upset, and GPs themselves are perplexed by the move. I do not see any logic for it. The reasons given don't appear on the face of it to stand up to scrutiny," said Deputy Sherlock. "This decision raises more questions than answers. As a funder of the service, the HSE must put pressure on the board of SouthDoc to change the decision."

Speaking on C103, Fermoy-based GP Dr Paddy Burke said the closure of the local SouthDoc centres would mean a large part of north Cork would be left without any cover, except for Mallow.

He said local GPs were already under "enormous pressure" and the closure of the Fermoy centre would add to that.

Dr Burke said that while every call GPs now get was a potential threat due to Covid-19, other patients also needed to be catered for.

"Other people will get sick, other people will need Acute medical care, and we need to be located approximate to our patients," he said.