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Absence of Out-of-Hours Review Report is leaving GP co-ops in ‘limbo’

Members at the recent NEDOC AGM heard that publication of the long-awaited report remains outstanding, with no information as yet regarding its potential recommendations.

Speaking to the Medical Independent, NEDOC Operations Manager Ms Arlene Fitzsimons said the absence of the report leaves co-ops in “limbo”.

Key issues raised by co-ops at the OOH Review workshops were the 24-hour demand on GPs and the requirement of funding support for red-eye cover, which varies from co-op to co-op, the AGM heard.

These issues remain outstanding until the publication of the report, which was due to be published in June, then September and then October, Ms Fitzsimons said.

A HSE spokesperson provided no explanation for the delay in publication, but said that the GP OOH Review Report is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Separately, concerns were raised by GPs regarding HSE plans to develop a Community Paramedic Training Programme for new community paramedics.

GPs at the NEDOC meeting expressed the view that the development could lead to inappropriate referrals to primary care.

It is already the experience of GPs that in some instances, individuals who are in need of emergency hospital care and who contact the emergency services are being told to instead contact their GP, the meeting heard.

GPs questioned what processes would be in place for community paramedics and how decisions would be made regarding care.

Community paramedics, who will be registered advanced paramedics, will refer patients for follow-up to community services, where appropriate, according to the HSE.

Four new full-time community paramedics are being sought to work in Inishowen, Donegal and counties Cavan and Monaghan.

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