BEARA was left without SouthDoc cover for five nights of the week, for the past three weeks, due to the severe shortage of available locums.
Local GPs Dr Fiona Kelly, Bank Place Clinic and Dr Jacqui Glisson provide SouthDoc cover Monday/Tuesday nights, with a locum on the rest of the week and weekends. However, Maggie Gleeson, who manages the practice at Bank Place, explained that a ‘crisis in locum availability’ meant they simply couldn’t get anyone in.
That meant anyone who needed urgent medical care outside the usual hours had to travel the considerable distance to either Kenmare or Bantry instead. The area has a population of around 2,500 and stretches from Beara to Glengarriff.
Maggie said it went against the grain of the practice to close their doors, but they had no choice. Her husband Dr Colin Gleeson and herself have been in Beara since 1980 and she said they’ve never had to resort to such a measure.
‘Dr Kelly and Dr Glisson are effectively on duty from 8am on Monday until 6pm on Wednesday – it wouldn’t be safe for them to be on duty any longer. We’re very conscious of the inconvenience but we had no option,’ she said.
A locum who lived locally has covered the roster up until now but he has been unavailable for the past few weeks.
‘There’s a crisis in availability in general and because of our location we are particularly exposed. We highlight the worst case scenario in the sector,’ she said.
A locum arrived this week to provide cover until mid-December, with another due to arrive then until mid-February. But Maggie said there was no guarantee they wouldn’t be in the very same situation after that unless something is done to address the problem of GPs emigrating.