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Retired GPs will not work in Covid-19 assessment hubs, IMO confirms

No GP over 60 or staff returning from retirement will be assigned to work in Covid-19 community assessment hubs, according to information circulated by the IMO to GP members

In a detailed letter to members written by IMO President Dr Pádraig McGarry and IMO GP Chair Dr Denis McCauley, they explained the nature of operations at the proposed hubs, as well as staffing, referral and exclusion criteria.

“GPs over 60 cannot be assigned to the hubs but where they so wish they may volunteer to work in the hubs under the same terms and conditions as other GPs and will be covered by clinical indemnity scheme,” the letter states.

Seen by the Medical Independent (MI), the letter confirms that “no GP can be asked to work in an environment or in a structure that is not in line with the national document in terms of training, staffing, patient flow, PPE or equipment.”

Working in the hubs, 40 of which will shortly open nationwide, is voluntary for GPs. Each hub will operate from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Referrals are made from a patient’s own GP, or at the weekend.

Referrals can be made from the GP out of hours service.

Children under the age of 16 and nursing home residents will not be facilitated in hubs and based on the discretion of their GP, will be referred to the GP surgery or emergency department, the letter explains.

The remuneration arrangements are also outlined for GPs attached and not attached to a GP practice.

“Practices will receive a payment of  €480 per session (four hours, inclusive of travel and other expenses) for each session worked in the community assessment hubs by its GP volunteer(s), or €120.00 per hour as the case maybe,” the letter outlines.

“For GPs who are not attached to a practice and who volunteer to work in the hubs, they will also receive payment at the same sessional/ hourly rate. Arrangements for the submission of 
invoices to local offices for processing will be the same for both scenarios and all payments will be subjected to professional withholding tax in line with standard practice for such payments.”

The letter concluded: “While our toughest tests may yet be ahead, by operating cohesively as a collective through the IMO and individually as highly skilled clinicians we can all help to alleviate the worst effects of this pandemic on our society.”

Separately, a HSE document on the operation of hubs states: “GPs who are also covering District Medical Officer positions for District Hospital or Long Stay Units may be requested to participate in the assessment hubs on a voluntary basis.”

The 40 hubs will require 208 whole time equivalent (WTE) GPs (104 WTE GPs and 104 WTE GP trainees), 312 WTE healthcare professionals, 208 WTE clerical staff and 104 WTE domestic staff.

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