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Ongoing uncertainties for GPs amid Covid-19

The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be a major challenge for Irish GPs in the coming months as the pandemic continues, according to the President of the IMO.

GPs will have to develop “new approaches” within practices to carry on meeting the health needs of patients, GP Dr Pádraig McGarry said.

PPE is in short supply internationally and HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid has said Ireland needs to develop a stronger indigenous supply model to meet ongoing demand.

Dr McGarry commented: “We will have to devise new approaches. Indeed, we will have to have a complete new look at how we deal with a changing environment.”

Another issue for GPs is a dramatic decline in income due to a major fall-off in patient attendances, according to Dr McGarry.

The financial supports offered to GPs in treating patients following the outbreak, negotiated recently by the IMO, have provided some relief. However, concerns remain for the financial viability of practices as the pandemic continues, he said.

“Face-to-face consults are the norm and always the preferred medium, but circumstances have dictated otherwise,” said Dr McGarry.

“Multiple phone calls triaging has become the norm, with GPs bringing in patients who need face-to-face consultations. Normal ‘ailments’ continue and can’t be ignored. What would have been a standard consult, say with a child who has a temperature, cough, streaming nose, now becomes a potential risk of infection to all in the practice.”

GPs had been highly “resilient” in adapting to new work practices and were “by and large coping”, added Dr McGarry.

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