Treatment visits at out-of-hours GP co-ops have reduced by an average of 65 per cent compared to last year, according to Mayo GP and Chairperson of the National Association of GP Co-ops, Dr Ken Egan.
The drop relates to data for 2021 compared to treatment visits recorded in 2020, at one co-op, but is largely representative of the national picture, Dr Egan said. Triage of calls received by co-ops has increased significantly since the pandemic began and is continuing to increase, data shows.
At one co-op, the number of calls triaged rose by almost 84 per cent to date in 2021 compared to the same time period in 2020, he said. In January, when Covid-19 cases soared nationally and co-ops came under immense strain to meet patient demand, one co-op received some 3,600 calls in a 12-hour period.
Commenting on the current situation at out-of-hours services, Dr Egan remarked that co-ops were “starting to get busier and normal, non-Covid work is beginning to return again”.
He added that financial supports for out-of-hours services, which are currently at 100 per cent of 2019 funding, would continue until 30 June. Talks on extending supports have yet to take place.
Heretofore, supports have been negotiated with the Department of Health by the IMO on behalf of the National Association of GP Co-ops. But according to Dr Egan, representatives from the national association plan to meet with the Department directly to negotiate supports before the June deadline expires.