Dr Brendan O'Shea
GP surgeries across Kildare are under severe pressure since the rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 within the county.
That is according to Newbridge-based GP Brendan O’Shea, who is a council member of the Irish College of General Practitioners — the professional body for general practice in Ireland.
He said that while the pressure on doctors is increased dramatically “this is the new normal.”
He said doctors are linked in with both the ICGP and the HSE for guidance before the country entered the latest lockdown phase.
“This is the fourth time we’ve been in lockdown including the lockdown affecting counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly so it is the fourth time we have been under this kind of pressure,” he said.
He said surgeries are facing both external and internal pressures.
Doctors are engaging with the national testing system for Covid-19 as well as assisting patients with non-covid issues such a need for surgery or mental health issues.
“All County Kildare practitioners have seen a rapid rise in the number of positive test results in recent weeks,” he said.
At the same time GPs have to deal with issues such as antenatal care, chronic disease management, cervical smear tests and childhood immunisation.
Practices must always be mindful of the health and safety of those working within individual surgeries.
He said many doctors are making use of telemedicine, where technology can be used to make assessments and to deliver care at a distance.
Where possible people are being seen to without having to visit a waiting room but at the same time those people needing electronic examination or blood work are attended to.
In some cases people are treated in cars.
“The Covid hubs have increased capacity and if a patient looked like they have the coronavirus as a result of an electronic examination then a determination is made about whether they should be in hospital.”
Testing for the virus is by appointment only, there is no “walk-in” service facility at any of the testing centres.
GPs decide if somebody with symptoms should be tested and they arrange the test. Those awaiting a test should self isolate (stay in your room) while others in the same dwelling should restrict their movements (stay at home).
Dr O’Shea said the scale of testing has been stepped up dramatically since last week.
He added that Level 5 works in terms of reducing the spread of the disease.
Patients who are concerned are advised to make contact with their GP by phone or by using the K Doc service out of hours or at weekends.
This means that people who are not seriously ill can stay at home.
“This worked very well previously and we’ve no reason to believe it won’t work well again,” added Dr O’Shea.