Beara woman ‘let down’ by SouthDoc

April 26th, 2022 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

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A DISTRESSED patient in Beara claimed she was let down by the SouthDoc out-of-hours service.

After going through triage late at night, the woman said she eventually got to speak to a GP who was 50km away and unable to see her.

She was told that if her circumstances were bad enough she should phone  an ambulance, but she declined to do that in the belief that the service should be reserved for people in real emergencies, such as strokes and heart attacks.

The woman who has serious medical issues insisted this story, which happened recently, is not about her, but the need to provide better out-of-hours services in rural areas.

In September 2021, The Southern Star reported that the out-of-hours service in Castletownbere was on the verge of collapse after the area’s resident after-hours GP retired.

It is understood that local GPs, in addition to their normal working day, are providing after hours cover on Monday and Tuesday nights, but it is the service mid-week – on Wednesday and Thursday nights – as well as the weekends, that is covered by SouthDoc. On Tuesday, a local GP confirmed that there were some issues with cover during the month of April, but the problem should be resolved very soon because there is a new resident out-of-hours GP starting on May 6th.

The patient raised the issue with TD Michael Collins, who said: ‘It is not right that a woman with serious medical issues should be told there is no doctor available in the dead of night. It is not something that you want to hear if you are on your own and unwell.’ He said the woman was fortunate to have had some strong painkillers, which meant she was able to hang on until she met her own GP the next day.

‘She told me she didn’t want to call an ambulance and end up in an emergency department, especially at a time when there is such demand on the service,’ he added.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said full cover arrangements were in place in Bantry and Castletownbere over the weekend. However, they added that due to on-going difficulties engaging suitable GPs for Castletownbere, there may be occasions when the duty doctor will be in an ‘adjacent location’.

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