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The service, aimed at using telemedicine to conduct home visits and reduce the burden on GP resources, was due to run for six months, from October to March.
The HSE officially launched a tender process in July seeking a provider to supply the service, which seeks to “explore how technology can support the clinician in providing a more efficient and effective use of GP resources, as well as providing efficient and timely access to the GP out-of-hours service to those unable to travel to a treatment centre,” according to the HSE.
Patients contacting the service who meet an agreed set of criteria, and triaged to receive a home visit, would be offered an alternative consultation by a suitably-qualified medical professional, such as a paramedic or a nurse with online access to the GP, under HSE plans.
It is proposed that the service would be used to cover home visits or treatment centre calls for Saturdays and Sundays and public holidays from 10am-8pm.
But according to Ms Arlene Fitzsimons, Operations Manager at NEDOC, the project has yet to be launched and remains in the tendering process.
“Unfortunately, there has been no significant development on the telemedicine project to date — it remains in the procurement/tendering process. We will not have a telemedicine support for home visits this winter,” said Ms Fitzsimons.
It is hoped that the project will enable GPs to manage patients more efficiently and effectively in the OOH treatment centres, while minimising time delays for patients to be seen at home.
NEDOC covers a population of around 400,000 and deals with more than 86,000 patient contacts annually.