SouthDoc service to continue despite issues

SouthDoc services in Killarney are set to continue but could at times be left without a doctor, the Director of SouthDoc told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

In recent weeks the service across Kerry and Cork has been embroiled in controversary as some services had no doctor on duty leaving patients with no choice but to travel miles away to other areas to access the service, or wait for their own GP to come on duty.

The majority of out-of-hours doctors who provide the service come from countries like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However, recent administration changes mean securing work visas for these doctors is taking longer than previous applications.

Current rules say that doctors from these countries can work in Ireland for up to 90 days. Once this period is up they must leave the country for another 30 days before reapplying and new applications can take anything up to another 30 days to process.

“What we are seeing here is that doctors can be out of the country for nearly two months,” Killarney-based, Dr Gary Stack, who is a Director of SouthDoc, told the Killarney Advertiser. “Someone, somewhere initiated a change to the visa system without having a full understanding of the ramifications and implications it would have to other services. Doctors have to jump through too many hoops to get the paperwork and that is why we are short numbers. We will continue to run the service, but from time-to-time not every centre will have a doctor on duty, and in such cases patients will be asked to travel to the next available centre.”