By Elizabeth Lee
CAREDOC, the emergency out-of-hours medical service for Co Carlow, has made an urgent appeal to the public to contact it only if absolutely necessary as it struggles to cope with an “unprecedent high demand” for its services.
It is appealing to people turn to their local pharmacies for help if symptoms are mild, while it’s also warning that the situation is likely to get worse over the coming weeks as GPs battle against winter respiratory infections.
The crisis at Caredoc came to light after complaints about difficulty in getting an appointment, or even getting through to the call centre.
“I couldn’t get through to the call centre so I had to put my child in the car and drive to Tullow in the hope that the doctor on duty would see me without an appointment. Once I got there, I had to fill out a form and I was told to wait in my car until the doctor could see me,” fumed a concerned mother, who didn’t wish to be named.
In reply to queries from ***The Nationalist***, Caredoc responded with a statement, which clarified that the service in under severe pressure. The statement said that it was not because of a shortage of doctors, nurses or administration staff, but because of the levels of sickness out there this winter.
‘Caredoc and, indeed, all GP out-of-hours services across the country are experiencing unprecedented levels of patient activity over the past few weeks,’ the statement said. ‘Many factors are contributing to this elevation and it is predicted that the weeks and months ahead will be extremely challenging for GP out-of-hours services due to the persistent levels of raised respiratory infections in the community, especially in children and the older population.’
It then appealed to the public not to even try to contact the service unless it’s absolutely necessary, especially if symptoms are not severe.
‘We would like to get the message out to the public that the Caredoc service is for patients needing urgent medical care; and where symptoms are mild, patients should access the HSE’s ***Under The Weather*** website for helpful self-care advice and attend their pharmacy for over-the-counter medication as appropriate.
‘We would like to assure the public that all efforts are being made; however, please expect to wait in a queue to have your call managed during peak times, such as between 6pm and 9pm Monday to Friday and on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday mornings.
‘We appreciate your patience and co-operation in this regard over the New Year and next number of weeks until this period of unprecedented high demand returns to normal winter activity levels.’