GP practices will be given a grant to release a GP to work in a community assessment hub, according to the President of the IMO.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), GP Dr Pádraig McGarry said that GPs would not be paid directly, but that the HSE grant would be used to offset the loss of income suffered by a practice while a GP was away.
Every community healthcare organisation (CHO) has issued expressions of interest to GPs to work in the hubs and several GPs have volunteered their services, it is understood, after initial anxiety among GPs over the provision of adequate PPE at the hubs was addressed by the HSE.
Third and fourth year GP trainees have been redeployed to work at the 39 hubs nationally. Nurses, allied health professionals, paramedics, administration and support staff will also work there.
It is hoped the hubs will help to remove fear among the public in attending GP surgeries for non-Covid-19 related queries and take away the perception that general practice is unsafe and poses a potential risk to patients for Coronavirus infection.
According to the HSE, the hubs will offer support “to care for people with mild and moderate symptoms of COVID-19 who are self-isolating in their home settings”.
“Initially there will be between 10-15 Community Assessment Hubs based in the nine Community Healthcare Organisation areas. We are at an advanced stage of planning in establishing these which will become operational on a rolling basis over the coming days and weeks,” a spokesperson told the paper.
“The clinical focus is to limit and slow down the spread of the virus through the community which will reduce the surge of people requiring acute healthcare services while being treated for their symptoms by healthcare staff.”
Individuals with Covid-19 who become unwell in the community may be referred by their GP to the hub for further assessment by appointment. Hubs will open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week in primary care centres.
“The standard telephone assessment will be completed by the patient’s GP who can then refer patients to the local hub if there are clinical concerns about deteriorating symptoms. Referrals to Assessment Hubs will be accepted from GP Out of Hours services.
“Referred patients will be assessed by nurses and GPs at the hub and a clinical decision can then be made as to whether they can be supported to continue to recover at home or be referred to acute hospital for treatment. Patients may also be referred to a self-isolation unit if
they cannot self-isolate at home.”