In a further blow to local health services, the North East Out of hours GP service NEDOC has announced it’s to change how it operates later in the summer, due to acute doctor shortages and underfunding by the HSE.In a statement, it also voiced its concern at the impact that planned changes for the Emergency Department at Our Lady’s hospital in Navan, will have on GPs in the region.

From Tuesday, August 2nd NEDOC will provide urgent GP Out of Hours care to patients on a face-to-face basis until 10.30 pm on weekdays and 10 pm at weekends, after which time patients will have access to GP telephone advice only.

NEDOC says patients of participating practices will have access to urgent appointments in its treatment centres from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm Monday to Friday and from 8 am- to 10 pm at weekends and after then, patients will be triaged by a nurse and referred onwards for GP triage if required.

There will be no in-person appointments or home visits provided after those hours.

Separately, in response to the HSE’s plans to change the E-D at Our Lady’s hospital to an Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU), NEDOC says it’s concerned at the impact this will have on general practice in the region.

It says reports that the unit will only be accessible by GP referral are of concern – as it believes this will create further pressures on already overloaded daytime and Out of Hours GPs.

NEDOC also says it is a major worry that potential stroke or cardiac patients won’t have direct access to the AMAU,  risking unnecessary delays in their treatment.