The out-of-hours (OOH) GP service North East Doctor On Call (NEDOC) will not become part of a GP triage system under current plans for Navan’s emergency department (ED) to convert to a 24-hour medical assessment unit (MAU), according to NEDOC Operational Manager Ms Arlene Fitzsimons.
On 13 June, the HSE announced that the ED at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, will be closed and transitioned into an MAU, with support from a local injuries unit. Patients will require a referral from GPs to access the planned MAU, which Ms Fitzsimons said was a concern as the OOH service cannot take on this workload.
“I absolutely do not see NEDOC becoming a part of the system,” she told the Medical Independent (MI). “We do not have the capacity for it, we are stretched to the max… It isn’t feasible to add an additional workload onto OOH.”
The inclusion of NEDOC into the new GP triage system for the MAU was outside the remit of any OOH cooperative and would “effectively” make NEDOC a pre-hospital emergency care service, according to Ms Fitzsimons. “NEDOC is not a pre-hospital emergency care service and will not become one whether the ED closes or not.”
“We won’t be providing these letters for the MAU,” she added. “And if they [the HSE] are going to make an alternative service, they have to put better plans in place.”
Ms Fitzsimons told MI that NEDOC had already highlighted its concerns to the HSE. She added that there had been no communication with NEDOC about the plans surrounding the ED.
Ms Fitzsimons highlighted it was important to safeguard daytime and OOH general practice against increasing demands in the face of GP shortages. She added that, for reasons of safety, patients should have direct access to the MAU with no impediment or delay to treatment by having to see a GP first.