Blackpool SouthDoc has reopened after more than 500 days of closure.

SouthDoc finally reopens on northside

SouthDoc Blackpool reopened this week after more than 500 days of closure but reduced hours and staffing has not gone down well with local representatives.

There was much controversy last year when the privately-run out of hours GP service decided to close its doors indefinitely on Cork’s northside while keeping its southside services open.

This meant that many northside residents in need of out of hours healthcare were forced to travel to the southside service which is located next to the South Ring Road off the Kinsale Roundabout and is only easily accessible by car.

Cork North-Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry has congratulated the city’s northside residents for never accepting the closure and says he is not satisfied with the decision to resume services with reduced hours and staff.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Deputy Barry said staffing levels and opening hours need to be fully restored to what they were before the closure and that a new service provision model is now necessary.

“For me, the key lesson is that a privately owned, out of hours GP service, albeit it’s surviving thanks to public funding, is insufficient and we need a new service provision model. I think that should take the form of direct state provision through the HSE,” said Deputy Barry.

Over the past 18 months, Deputy Barry said there have been many cases of people putting their own health needs on hold who would normally have gone to SouthDoc Blackpool.

“Those who felt it was absolutely necessary to travel over to the southside for themselves or for their children, ended up in many cases paying a pretty penny in terms of taxi fares, so there's a health impact and a financial impact,” he said.

The deputy is now calling for a debate surrounding the future of out of hours GP service provision in Cork city, though he does not believe the Government or the HSE would favour a model based on direct state provision.

“I don't think that's the first choice option for the Government or the HSE but what's paramount here are the needs of the general population, and if they can best be served by direct provision of these services, and I believe they can, then that's what needs to be done,” he said.

Fellow North-Central TD Thomas Gould (Sinn Féin) welcomed the reopening of the Blackpool service and said it is “in no small part thanks to the valiant efforts of the community who stood up and fought against this closure”.

“We rallied together as a community and we fought this closure. We sent out a clear message that the northside won’t allow our services to be closed and we won’t be neglected any longer,” said Deputy Gould.

The deputy, who has been very vocal on the issue since the closure of the service, believes the southside of the city was favoured over the northside and said the reopening is “another step forward in ending the neglect of the northside”.

“Using Covid-19 as a cover, the northside was once again shafted. But we stood up and sent a clear message that we will not continue to lose services and be forgotten about,” he said.