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Caredoc resigns as member of the National Association of GP Co-ops

By Niamh Cahill - 18th Feb 2024

Caredoc resigns

One of the largest GP out-of-hours (OOH) co-ops in the country has decided to resign its membership of the National Association of GP Co-ops, the Medical Independent has learned.

The board of directors at Caredoc, which serves patients in several counties from Donegal to the south-east, informed the Association of its decision in recent weeks. The co-op has also informed the HSE and the IMO.

The move comes after Caredoc omitted itself from a letter sent to the HSE and the IMO by the Association on behalf of its co-op medical directors in July 2023.

The letter outlined a number of significant patient safety and financial viability concerns regarding GP OOH services and criticised the HSE for its lack of engagement in addressing these matters.

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, the HSE introduced a grant funding model to support OOH services.

Last year, following consultations between the IMO, the HSE, and the National Association of GP Co-ops, the option to allow co-ops to decide on an individual basis whether to continue with the grant model or revert to special type consultation (STC) payments was secured.

Individual co-ops were to ballot members on the proposal to decide which funding model to operate under. It is understood that Caredoc was unhappy with this proposal and resigned its membership. The co-op has remained under a grant-funded model. 

A spokesperson for Caredoc failed to issue a comment on the matter at the time of going to press.

Grant funding varies among co-ops, but is understood to be valued at between €75-€110 per hour. This works out at about two patients per hour, but most GPs see four patients per hour at co-ops, it is understood. The STC rate is around €41 per patient.

Meanwhile, serious concerns among GPs about significant demand at co-ops during the December and January period were abated somewhat with volumes lower when compared to 2022 figures.

According to Medical Director at Southdoc, Dr Gary Stack, presentations at the co-op were down over Christmas and New Year compared with the same period in 2022/23.

Overall, he said contacts to the service in 2023 were 5 per cent lower when compared to figures for 2019, the last normal year of operation before the pandemic.

This, he remarked, “significantly eased the pressure, including financial pressure” on the service after an extremely busy Christmas holiday period in 2022.

Ms Arlene Fitzsimons, Operations Manager at NEDOC, stated that a ‘tridemic’ of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Covid-19 placed major pressures on co-ops during the previous winter. She said 2022 was the co-op’s busiest year on record.

However, the volume was reduced in late 2023, compared with the same period of 2022.

“We had a very busy Christmas and New Year although the volume of demand was down compared to 2022. However, in 2022 all health services were dealing with a tridemic of flu, RSV, and Covid-19 – with the added issue of high-profile cases of strep A creating a lot of concern and anxiety among parents.

“NEDOC GP consultations were down 3 per cent compared to 2022. However, GP consultations were up 3 per cent compared to 2019, which was our last normal year of operation and our busiest year to that date.”

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