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HSE e-message system crashes as GPs are swamped by patients asking for coronavirus tests

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Advice: Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed that the criteria for testing has been updated. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Advice: Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed that the criteria for testing has been updated. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Advice: Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed that the criteria for testing has been updated. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

GPs were swamped by patients asking for coronavirus tests today - causing the internal HSE electronic message system used for referrals to crash.

Several GPs said they were unable to get referrals for patients through Healthlink ,the HSE online system.

It became overwhelmed with demand.

Today is the first day GPs can make direct referrals of patients for the coronavirus test after they are risk assessed over the phone.

The referral is made through Healthlink an online system for GPs.

The plan is to have 22 centres open where patients who are deemed suitable by the GP for a test can then go to and provide a swab which will be sent to a laboratory.

Many GPs reported fielding calls from the worried well who wanted a test for reassurance although they had no symptoms of the virus.

After the electronic system became overwhelmed this morning GPs were informed by the HSE that they could email referrals for COVID tests .

They received a referral template and were told to include a patient mobile number so their appointment details can be sent by text.

The Irish Medical Organisation told the public today that GP practices are very busy.

“Your details will be taken and you will be called back but please be patient and do not make multiple calls to the surgery.

“Staff are doing their best to deal with the surge of calls.”

Patients should not attend their GP practices without an appointment.

Cork GP Dr Jim Harty posted on Twitter:”Phones to my primary care centre crash.

Healthlink e-referral system crashes. This does not augur well.”

He apologised to any patients who cannot make contact via phone as recommended.

Online Editors