Fears for Shannondoc service in village of Hospital

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Fears for Shannondoc service in village of Hospital

The service in the east Limerick village is under threat

THE general manager of Shannondoc – the out-of-hours medical care provider - is refusing to comment directly on fears that the service in the village of Hospital is to close, stating that “the service is always under review”.

According to sources, the service in the east Limerick village - which is one of 12 treatment centres located throughout the Mid-West region –  is under threat and could face closure.

When pressed on the question of whether closure was one of the options being examined, Michael Finucane, general manager of Shannondoc replied; “We are looking at a range of options. I’m not going to comment. The service is completely under review. When there is something definitive to come out, we will brief people on it. I don’t want to be going around scaremongering or doing anything like that.

"We are looking at the services in totality - it’s not just Hospital we are looking at, we are looking at the complete network of the services. We are always doing that on a continuous basis.

“There are a range of options under discussion - there are a lot of discussions to happen.”

However, Mr Finucane did confirm that they are experiencing “the same problem -  a shortage in GPs”.

“They are still in very short supply. What is happening is there is less and less rural GPS, we are still facing the same problem. We have another retirement down in Thurles, we have another retirement coming up in Scarriff, so we are still facing the same challenges.”

Mr Finucane said there are currently 11 doctors working from the Hospital service whereas there would have been 13 or 14 doctors working with the service at its peak.

“In the last 12 months alone, we have had six GPs retire from the service and there has been only one replacement. Rural GPs are being decimated,” he said. “The service is always under review. We are always looking at trying to provide the public with a better service and to make sure that we have the GPs to provide that service,” continued Mr Finucane.

Shannondoc was created in 2002 to provide an improved medical service to patients within the Mid-West region including Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. The central call centre is located at St Camillus’ Hospital in Limerick city and handles over 110,000 medical cases each year.

The Shannondoc team consists of 120 doctors, 30 nurses and 50 support staff enrolled in various functions.