Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill is seeking an improvement in services offered by ShannonDoc, the out of hours GP in North Tipperary and made the request in the Dáil today.
At present the core centre is in Nenagh and regional centres are in Thurles and Roscrea. Expecting that one core centre could provide an adequate service for the area is unacceptable according to the Thurles based TD. The core centre in Nenagh opens from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., but the two regional centres open only from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and public holidays. Deputy Cahill says this does not provide adequate service to the public and wants Thurles to be designated as a core centre by the HSE with expanded hours.
The Shannondoc co-operative provides GP out-of-hours services for Limerick, north Tipperary and Clare. As with the other GP out-of-hours co-operatives, Shannondoc is a private organisation providing services through service level agreements and is allocated almost €5 million in HSE funding in 2022. The HSE is happy that the service provided is meeting the requirements as per the service level agreement in place.
The HSE has confirmed that, in the near future, Shannondoc services will operate from the new Thurles community primary care centre. It is expected that services will move to this centre by the end of this year and that the existing level of service will be retained.
Shannondoc has never provided an overnight service from its Thurles treatment centre. Since March 2020, Shannondoc have operated an enhanced model of care with the introduction of mobile doctors, remote doctors and core treatment centre doctors. If a doctor is not present in a regional treatment centre such as the Thurles centre, a mobile doctor, based in Nenagh, will be available to patients if required. This model is co-ordinated by dispatchers and nurses. Following triage to identify the immediate needs of the patient, the mobile doctor will attend the patient’s preferred treatment centre, where possible, or the patient will be offered an appointment at the nearest available treatment centre. ShannonDoc has confirmed to the HSE, that where there is increased demand in certain areas, support teams can be deployed from other locations, ensuring services are provided where most needed.
Furthermore, alongside an increase in HSE out-of-hours co-operative funding for next year to meet existing levels of service increases, additional funding of €10 million is being made available under the winter plan to support GP practices and out-of-hours services providers over this busy winter period.
Minister Rabbitte, from county Galway outlined how Westdoc operates. There are a number of cells, a number of cars and a number of GPs covering the roster. A red-eye shift is provided but there is also weekend cover and suggested that Deputy Cahill meet with the HSE and with Shannondoc to see how business cases could be submitted in future to ensure that all cells in the area are covered.
Deputy Cahill’s view is that if north Tipperary was two regions it could be covered adequately and provide the night service that people rightly expect and demand of the HSE in modern-day Ireland.
Deputy Rabbitte also shared that in Galway Westdoc operates with 8 locations with a doctor for out of hours services and says it does not seem adequate for north Tipperary to be operating with only one doctor providing this service.