SERVICES OFFERED by ShannonDoc are no longer “palatable” to the people of Clare, an elected representative has claimed.

Currently, ShannonDoc has four treatment centres in Co Clare located in Ennis, Shannon, Miltown Malbay and Kilrush. The Kilrush centre only operates from 9am to 7pm on weekends and public holidays, remaining shut from Monday to Thursday, the out of hours service recommenced in Kilrush from May 7th.

Ennis has the longest hours of operation from 6pm to 8am all week with some variations for public holidays. The Shannon facility is open from 6pm to 11pm (Monday to Thursday) and 9am to 10pm on weekends and public holidays. In Miltown Malbay, the functioning hours are 6pm to 8am (Monday to Thursday) and 6pm to 9am (Friday) with the facility open from 7pm to 9am (Saturday) and 7pm to 8am (Sunday).

Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) sought an explanation “as to how ShannonDoc purports to service the communities of West Clare when patients who call for out of hours medical assistance are being referred to Ennis, Limerick or Nenagh” and a list of the Clare GPs participating in the service.

Chief Officer with HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare, Maria Bridgeman explained, “Since March 2020, the model of service delivery by ShannonDoc for the provision of Out of Hours services differs in that the GP may not always be present in the Treatment Centre but will be available to patients as required”.

She stated, “ShannonDoc have confirmed that a team of triage nurses, patient care administrators and central dispatchers are available to people across the Mid-West, including West Clare, midweek from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday and 24 hour cover at weekends and Public Holidays from 6 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday. Patients can access the service by calling the new Lo-call number 0818 123 500 or 061 459 500”.

“Clinical circumstances” dictate whether a patient gets a face to face appointment at one of the centres, a virtual consultation or if the doctor can see the patient in their home, Ms Bridgeman added.

Last year, 46 GPs were “actively participating” in ShannonDoc’s out of hours service. “These individual General Practitioners are contracted to ShannonDoc and not the HSE. Under GDPR, ShannonDoc is not permitted to provide a list of the Company’s members without their consent so therefore we are not in a position to provide this information”. They are among the 141 GPs signed up with 67 in Limerick and 28 in North Tipperary.

Speaking at a meeting of the HSE Regional Forum, Cllr Murphy expressed the view that GDPR was “not a good enough reason” to keep details on the active GPs hidden. “It is funded by public and they have a right to know who is signed up to it”.

There are no plans to open the Kilrush centre during the week which frustrated the Kilkee representative. “The lack of service in Kilrush is not palatable for the people of Wwest Clare, it is one thing to say go to Miltown but it is not good enough for people living fifteen minutes on the other side of Kilrush”. The referral of patients to Ennis, Limerick and Nenagh suggests a desire to reduce the client base and subsequently curtail the service, he noted.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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