A tender seeking a provider for the new service, which will serve a population of 340,000, was finally released recently. It is planned to launch the long-awaited service no later than 1 October 2018.
Efforts have been ongoing for some time to introduce a structured service in the region, which is currently served by a GP deputising service at night and weekends.
There were hopes that a service could be introduced in early 2017 but plans were put on hold due to budgetary constraints. Funding has now been earmarked for the service.
Treatment centres will operate at St Vincent’s University Hospital, St Michael’s Hospital and St Columcille’s Hospital. Facilities for GP out-of-hours services are to be included in primary care infrastructure in the future, according to the HSE.
The service will handle almost 2,000 calls per week and more than 102,000 calls per annum, it is envisaged.
Yet it remains unclear whether a provider will be able to secure agreement from more than 100 GPs to launch the service.
“Tenderers must demonstrate that they have a formal agreement in principle with the GPs in the catchment area in question that should they be the successful tenderer in this tender competition, the GPs in the catchment area in question will provide GP services,” a tender document outlines.
“This formal agreement in principle must be obtained from at least 102 GPs who hold a GMS contract within the area.”
However, local GP Dr Peter Boles, Bray, believes that agreement will be secured. Dr Boles, along with other GPs, has been seeking to establish a co-op for more than five years.
Dr Boles told the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>) that the new service would be called NEWDOC and that a co-op committee has been established.
“The previous tender process was extremely slow, with multiple delays… But if all goes to plan, October is a realistic timeline,” Dr Boles said.
The HSE wants to install a “fully-managed service, whereby the service provider would provide the call-handling services, nurse triage services, GPs, clinical nurses, other support staff (reception staff, drivers, etc) and infrastructure required (ICT, vehicles etc), whilst the HSE will provide the premises for the agreed treatment centres”.
Some of the areas to be covered by the new service include Ranelagh, Sandymount, Blackrock, Dun Laoghaire, Bray, Greystones and Newtownmountkennedy.
It is understood that the new co-op will serve Bray and Greystones, based out of Loughlinstown, while a new red-eye service will operate in the remaining areas.