More staff in ShannonDoc this year after 12,500 calls to the service in one day

SHANNON Doc, the out of hours GP service, has brought on additional personnel to boost operations at the service for the Mid West after the service had 12,500 calls in just one day over last year’s busy Christmas period.

An extra 20 per cent of personnel – comprising of doctor, nurse and call centre operators – have been put in place on top of last year’s record number of staff to deal with the 2023 festive period.

This amounts to almost 50 per cent more resources at ShannonDoc than Christmas 2021, enough, it hopes, to cater for the increased activity over Christmas.

ShannonDoc provides significantly more out-of-hours GP coverage over the Christmas period due to the GP practice holidays.

ShannonDoc will provide full cover on Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day. Normal GP service will resume Wednesday December 27 through to close of business on Friday 29 when ShannonDoc will take over again through to Tuesday January 2 when normal GP practice hours resume.

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ShannonDoc Chair Dr Ailish Kenny said: “Last year ShannonDoc prepared like never before for Christmas, putting 30 per cent more resources in place than the previous Christmas when the service had sufficient capacity to cater for the throughput.”

“Despite that, an unprecedented surge crippled pretty much the entire national primary care health service, from GP out-of-hours to ED, with the ShannonDoc switchboard receiving 12,500 calls on one-day alone.

“We’re again preparing for an increase in services and we have put in place 20 per cent more staff working shifts between doctors, nurses, and call takers for this Christmas. On top of that we have a contingency plan in place in case of a sudden surge.”

Newly-appointed CEO Peter Clarke added: “We are heading into the busiest period of the year for out-of-hours service because GP practices are closed for much of the holidays. So, at this time of year we would ask the public to be patient with the service. We’ve worked closely with the HSE to mitigate the impact any surge would cause but we do ask for the public’s understanding.”

“People will get an appointment much quicker at ShannonDoc this Christmas than they would with the vast majority of GP practices in urban areas. It’s a superb offering, with superb people working for it and we’re confident we’re ready for what’s coming this Christmas.”

The CEO stressed the importance of the public only contacting the out-of-hours service for genuine urgent cases, conditions such as severe pain, injuries, sudden illnesses, or any other health issues that cannot wait until the next GP practice day.

To ensure efficient and timely care for all patients, ShannonDoc advises the public to consider the urgency of their medical situation before contacting the service. In case of uncertainty about the seriousness of a condition, individuals are encouraged to call and seek guidance.

Mr Clarke added:  “We are continually monitoring the cases that are presenting to ShannonDoc and so far in December the number of patients being treated have not risen substantially.”

“ShannonDoc has increased resources compared to last year but unprecedented events are out of its control when the system is running at full capacity.”

ShannonDoc can be contacted on 0818 123 500 or on 061 459 500.