SHANNONDOC, the out of hours GP service for Clare, Limerick and Tipperary, has asked the public for understanding over the Christmas period due to anticipated and unprecedented volumes of patients presenting to the service.
Last weekend alone, a record 1,900 patients presented to Shannondoc and while additional resources have been put in place, Shannondoc has said that it expects patient numbers to increase considerably again over the Christmas period. This will, it said, put pressure on the out-of-hours service and it warned the public of potential lengthy delays at peak times.
It also asked the public to remember that it is an urgent care only service, that routine matters should be presented GPs during normal day time hours and that any patients who have concerns about potential life-threatening illnesses should present immediately to emergency services.
Shannondoc Chairman Dr Pat Morrissey said: “Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the Shannondoc service but we are already in the midst of a prevalent ‘flu strain and that saw us deal with 1,900 patients across the system last weekend. That is an absolutely sure indicator that the Christmas period is going to be incredibly busy for our staff and we want the public to be aware of that and the repercussions it will have for them and our staff.
“We have brought in additional resources to deal with the inordinately high volumes but we still predict that patient numbers will be unprecedented, even for the typically busy Christmas period. This could manifest in significant delays and we ask that the public be patient with our staff in what will be a very challenging few days for them.
“The advice we give is that if it is a routine matter, please visit your own GP during normal operating times but if it is an urgent but non-emergency care issue, please contact us and we will get you the earliest possible appointment. No patients should present at a Shannondoc centre without an appointment. Shannondoc is not a walk-in service. In the meantime, we would ask people to check www.undertheweather.ie for tips on managing common illnesses.”