The Navan premises of the North East Doctor On Call , (NEDOC) services closed nine hours early on Monday of this week.

The service is meant to operate from 6 pm to 8 am to cover the hours in which GP surgeries are closed but on Monday it shut at 11 pm meaning anyone from Navan and the surrounding areas who were advised they needed to see a doctor had to travel to the firms Drogheda base at the Cottage Hospital.

Arlene Fitzsimons operations manager with NEDOC confirmed the early closure to Meath Live saying, ‘The Navan NEDOC centre was operational on Monday May 30th with doctors working from the centre until 11pm. Thereafter calls for that centre were transferred for management to another GP in Drogheda.

‘NEDOC is an urgent out of hours GP service for patients of our participating practices, who are acutely unwell and who cannot wait until their own GP surgery re-opens the following day.

‘When patients ring NEDOC they are contacted by a nurse who triages their call, assesses their situation. Sometimes that patient may only require self-care advice from the nurse or they may be advised to attend an emergency department as appropriate. A patient may need further assessment by a GP in which case the patient is offered an appointment if there is one available.’

‘There were 84,000 contacts to NEDOC in 2021 of which 80% were routine in nature. With so many routine consultations, it is increasingly difficult for acutely unwell patients to get an appointment.’

Fitzsimons also pointed out that GP numbers are down nationally.

She said, ‘There is a national GP manpower shortage, something that has been flagged to successive Ministers for Health, to the HSE and the Dept. of Health for over 15 years. We are now at crisis point as more doctors retire and are not replaced by newly qualified GP’s.’