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Nearly 70 GPs used RCSI advice service in early weeks of pandemic

Almost 70 GPs used a telephone service provided by the RCSI and the ICGP for advice from a surgeon advisory panel during the early weeks of the pandemic, this newspaper has been told. The establishment of the service was discussed at the April meeting of the RCSI Council, minutes of which have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request. At the April meeting of the RCSI Council, it was noted that the National Clinical Programme for Surgery and the ICGP would be establishing a telephone and online service where GPs could “seek timely advice from a surgeon advisory panel” regarding Covid-19 issues.

“The GP connect service ran from the start of April; during that time 1,488 individuals visited the service website and 68 GPs used the service,” a RCSI spokesperson told MI.

“As scheduled surgical services returned, the need for the service reduced and the service was paused on 17 June.”

The GPs who contacted the service “did so for advice on how to support their patients” and how to access services impacted by the pandemic, the spokesperson said. Separately, the ICGP last month asked the public to be patient in regard to accessing influenza vaccination amid shortages.

Dr Mary Favier, Cork GP and ICGP Covid-19 advisor, commented: “The provision of flu vaccines this winter has caused a lot of anxiety in people, and staff in GP surgeries are increasingly experiencing anger and impatience from members of the public. GPs are asking people to please be patient.

“We ask that people waiting for flu vaccines must appreciate that there has been a delay and shortage of flu vaccines. We are prioritising the most vulnerable groups and will do our best to get to everyone who requests a vaccine.

“We also wish to reiterate our message to those who have non-Covid-19 illnesses or worries. Please do contact your GP for us to check your symptoms. Nobody wants to miss a vital early diagnosis of a potentially serious illness or cancer.”

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