A PARENT with a sick child was asked to wait in a janitor’s cupboard when they attended Shannondoc out-of-hours GP services over the Christmas period, the January meeting of Clare County Council was told.
The claims were made by Councillor Donna McGettigan who told the meeting of a catalogue of complaints she received over the holiday period. She said that a woman who had no car to wait in until her child saw a doctor was put into the cupboard to wait with her six-year-old.
“Most people understand that when you’re busy, you’re busy,” Councillor McGettigan said, “but the reply we got from Shannondoc, there’s no apology in it. People are saying there’s no accountability there for this. They way people are being treated during this period was absolutely disgusting. They need to stop being reactionary and start forward planning. The dogs in the street knew coming into this we were going to have serious issues.”
Councillor McGettigan’s motion called on Clare County Council to ask the management of Shannondoc the reasons why people were left with call cancellations or phones being left unanswered. She also called on Shannondoc once again to attend a meeting with Clare County Councillors to answer questions and discuss future plans so this does not happen again.
The motion was seconded by Cathaoirleach Councillor Tony O’Brien and backed by Councillor Gerry Flynn. Councillor O’Brien said “contempt” had been shown when Shannondoc representatives would not come in and address the Council. “I hear everything you say and I concur with it,” the Cathaoirleach said.
Councillor Flynn described the motion as “very important”. He said he had attended meetings on the setting up of Shannondoc. “It hasn’t enhanced the service,” he said.
Councillor Ian Lynch commended the motion saying every councillor had to deal with similar complaints over Christmas. “This is extremely frustrating,” he said. “There’s one call centre for Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.” He described the situation currently as “farcical” and called on the Health Minister to step in.
Councillor Cillian Murphy said promises made about the service were “risible” and that his family had had experience of it over Christmas. He added that the situation was forcing people into EDs.
Councillor Pat O’Gorman described a person very close to him in their 80s who had to walk up three flights of stairs when sent to see a doctor in Limerick. “She had to be lifted and guided up one flight, then sit and be lifted and guided up the next flight,” he said.
“From the time they got to the front door to the doctor, it was an hour because the woman was so bad. She was then guided to the hospital and left on a trolley the whole night before being sent home the following day, without seeing a doctor and without seeing a bed.”
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy concurred with everything said, but noted that she was one of the lucky ones that had received “excellent service” from Shannondoc. “They didn’t know who I was,” she said.
“I was told I’d be contacted within half an hour and I was… I was very, very lucky, but it was just an accident I would think.”
The Ennis woman also said that very ill and frustrated patients had been so distraught that they were verbally abusive to Shannondoc staff, and that that was another cause for concern .
Councillor Mary Howard described the situation as “incredibly frustrating” for patients. She said medical services in the Midwest were “absolutely appalling no matter what side you’re looking at”.
Thanking her colleagues for their support for her motion, Councillor McGettigan also paid tribute to Deirdre Culligan for her work on the issue over a number of years.