SouthDoc, the out of hours GP service, is to close some clinics across Cork to focus care from seven centres as part of contingency plans to keep the service in operation.
The move is part of contingency plans to ensure the service remains available to the public across Cork amid the coronavirus outbreak in the region.
The move will see SouthDoc operate from seven treatment centres across the South west – Bandon, Bantry, Mallow, Midleton, Kinsale Road roundabout, Killarney and Tralee.
Other centres will be locked down and sterilised as necessary. These include Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Blackpool, Dunmanway, Fermoy, Kanturk, Macroom, Skibbereen and Youghal.
An email sent to GPs in the region from Joanne Montgomery, chair of the SouthDoc board, informed doctors that each doctor rostered for duty will attend the one covering that area.
For example, doctors covering Blackpool will instead go to Kinsale Road, while Macroom doctors will work from Bandon when on duty in SouthDoc.
“We are in unprecedented times,” said Ms Montgomery, informing doctors that the contingency plans will be in place from tomorrow morning at 8am.
“We are doing this to protect the health of us the members and our staff and thus being able to provide a continued service,” she added.
“The reason for the consolidation of treatment centres is we expect reduction in staff and doctor numbers as time goes on due to illness/ self isolation.
“The nurses will triage out what they can,” she said.
“They will not be allowed issue any appointments – all calls will come down as doctors advise.
“The reason for this is each doctor has their own opinion on whether they should physically see a patient whether it be for an injury or a cough.
“This is their right and we cannot dictate to any doctor.
“If a doctor deems a patient needs to be physically seen then they will see them themselves.”
Ms Montgomery explained that the plan comes into effect from tomorrow to ensure they “can address any issues as they arise now before the expected exponential rise in Covid-19”.
“I know there will be some dissent but we need to work together,” she said.
“We must protect the doctors and staff.
“We will be monitoring this on a daily basis and will make changes as necessary along the way.”
A source within the service explained the situation is unprecedented and that all such decisions are being taken in the best interests of public health.