Midoc out of hours GP service details for Christmas and New Year

Covid-19 mean service will operate differently

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

midoc covid

The Midoc GP Out of Hours Service has published its arrangements for Christmas 2020 by the HSE.

Midoc GP Out of Hours provides urgent out-of-hours GP care for patients of participating practices in counties Laois, Longford, Westmeath, and Offaly. The service operates when surgeries close in the evening and over the course of weekends and public holidays.

The HSE Community Health Office says Midoc’s arrangements for Christmas 2020 are as follows:

·        From 6pm Thursday 24th December to 8am Tuesday 29th December 2020

·        From 6pm Tuesday 29th December to 8am Wednesday 30th December 2020

·        From 6pm Wednesday 30th December to 8am Thursday 31st December 2020

·        From 6pm Thursday 31st December to 8am Monday 4th January 2021

Last Christmas/ New Year  Midoc GPs managed over 4,710 contacts to the service and had more than 1,086 contacts alone on St Stephen’s Day.

This year with a 4-day Christmas (25th-28th) and 3-day New Year (1st-3rd) we expect to be busier than ever and patients may face delays getting through to the service at peak times or waiting for a callback.

Patients who may need regular prescriptions are urged to get them filled by their own surgery in advance of Christmas. Also people are advised to check their first aid boxes are well stocked to treat minor ailments at home without having to contact Midoc. Patients should also check the HSE website undertheweather.ie for useful advice on common illnesses like colds, coughs, flu, earache and sore throats.

Midoc GP Out of Hours is not a walk-in service and patients are advised not to walk into a centre without an appointment.

Patients who arrive at the centre with no appointment will be told to ring 1850 302 702 and an appointment will be arranged for them if necessary and they will advised to return for that appointment.  This is especially pertinent during Covid-19.  Patients should also remember that GP surgeries will be open as normal on non-bank holiday days such as Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and the days in between from Tuesday 29th.

When someone rings the Midoc GP Out of Hours service, a trained telephonist takes their details, including name, address, date of birth, telephone number and the brief symptoms of illness/complaint, the name of the patient's own GP, medical card details, if applicable. All this detail is necessary as it enables the service to treat the patient according to medical need. Each morning, GPs receive an electronic report on the treatment of their patients who attended Midoc overnight or over a weekend.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, the Nurse Triage centre is exceptionally busy and Callers may experience delays in receiving a call back from the Triage Nurse. Calls are prioritised according to each patient’s medical condition at the time of the call.  The patient will receive a call back from an experienced triage nurse usually within one hour. Emergency cases are passed directly to the nurse for immediate attention.   Following a telephone assessment, the Nurse will decide the most appropriate level of care.  This may conclude with advice over the telephone, a request to attend a treatment centre to see a doctor or arrange a house call or advice to attend the Emergency Department.

Patients should be aware that since the onset of Covid-19, Midoc has been following the advice of NPHET to minimise the spread of infection between doctors, patients and staff, and has been managing the vast majority of patient consultations via telephone. Phone consultations are virtually the same as a face to face consultation as the GP takes a history, assesses symptoms, makes a diagnosis and advises of appropriate treatment.  

There is a cost to having access to a doctor in the evening, at night, weekends and during Christmas and bank holidays.  Patients who do not have a medical or GP visit card are charged a fee for a GP phone consultation, a face to face visit in the treatment centre and  for home visits.

The HSE is reminding people that have Covid-19 symptoms of the necessity to isolate themselves from everyone and contact a GP.

·        If you’re concerned about any symptoms, stay at home and contact your GP

·        If you’re waiting for a test or the results of a test, stay at home, away from others. Your household contacts must also stay at home while you are waiting for the result of your test

·        If you’re the close contact of a case – stay at home and restrict your movements for 14 days

·        If you receive a positive test result – you need to stay at home, and isolate yourself from others for 10 days. For more information go to www.hse.ie/coronavirus  

The best way of reducing the number of Covid-19 outbreaks is to reduce the level of community transmission around the country. To protect the vulnerable, including residents of nursing homes and other long term residential facilities, we need to do everything we can to stop the transmission of Covid-19.

The most important action we can take to protect ourselves and others from Covid-19 is to follow the public health advice:

-  ensure regular hand washing
-  practice good respiratory hygiene
-  keep 2m between yourself and other people
-  avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
-  wear a mask where indicated in indoor public spaces
-  and download the Covid Tracker App

The HSE says Midoc GP Out of Hours service provides urgent out of hours GP care when your own surgery is closed in the evening and advises people not to call for routine matters that can wait until your GP surgery is open.

Midoc says the service is an urgent out of hours service and it is not a routine replacement for your own daytime GP. If patients have routine issues they should make an appointment with their own daytime GP who is best placed to manage their long-term health. However patients should contact Midoc (1850 302 702) for urgent medical concerns when their GP surgery is closed.  However, in the event of an emergency or if your situation deteriorates, you should contact the emergency services immediately on 112 or 999.