Tipperary TD Michael Lowry is highlighting the inadequate out of hours’ services that ultimately leads to people calling an ambulance. Deputy Lowry informed the Dáil that in North Tipperary, when GP’s daily surgeries close Thurles and Roscrea are covered by a mobile doctor based in Thurles. Patients are seen by appointment at the respective centres in both towns until 11pm. Between 11pm and the opening of GP surgeries the next day the overnight Nenagh Centre takes over. This is approximately 20 miles from both Thurles and Roscrea. The Thurles based TD says not everyone is in a position to drive 20 miles in the middle of the night with a child, adult or elderly person who may require medical attention. In other cases, people do not have transport. Deputy Lowry says people cannot be faulted for taking the only option open to them.
The TD says the out of hours service in the area has been neglected over a long time and that failing to improve the service risks the health of every person in North Tipperary. Until recently the HSE protocol in operation meant all ambulance patients had to be taken to the ED in University Hospital Limerick. At present clinically suitable patients can be taken to the Medical Assessment Unit at Nenagh Hospital.