Independent Cllr Kenneth O'Flynn.

Cllr: Proposal by HSE is ‘not acceptable’

A Cork city councillor has raised concern over elderly people in Blarney needing to take 2 busses each way to see their nearest doctor.

In a letter to the General Manager of Primary Care at the HSE, Michael Moriarty, Independent Cllr Kenneth O’Flynn pointed out that once Blarney’s only GP retires on 31 December, the town’s 600 medical card holders will need to travel to Ballincollig in order to see an interim doctor while a permanent replacement is sought.

The councillor said that at a time when Covid-19 has not gone away, having elderly people travel so far for GP services is surely not best medical practice.

Cllr O’Flynn asked Mr Moriarty whether the proposal meets the standards and practices of the HSE for those that are medically vulnerable and pointed out that the age group of the retiring GP’s patients is mostly 50 years and older.

He wrote in his letter: “Having met and discussed with a number of residents in the area, this current proposal by the HSE is not acceptable to the general public.

“I’d be grateful if you could take a look and take into consideration the other proposals that have been made to the HSE by general practitioners who are willing to go into Blarney and service the area.”

Cllr O’Flynn also raised concern for non medical card holders aged 17-24 olds who are entitled to free contraception.

“This could pose a huge difficulty for these people to gain access to a doctor at this time and to get access to contraception for the 17-24 year olds. I’d be grateful if you could let me know what consideration was given to this,” he wrote.

Late last month news broke that the Ashdale Centre in Blarney was to lose its only GP, Dr Una O’Halloran, as of 31 December.

A number of local councillors and TD have since asked for assurances from the HSE that a replacement GP would be recruited and an interim doctor be made available in the meantime.

In a statement, the HSE said it was made aware of the upcoming retirement on 28 September and confirmed that Cork Kerry Community Healthcare was undertaking the appropriate steps finding a permanent replacement and ensuring the continuity of services in the interim.

“The HSE’s main focus since being informed of retirement is continuity of service and has been scoping out/working with local providers to ensure this continuity of care.

“We have had positive engagement on this and aim to implement a plan for same pending agreement. This interim service will remain until we conclude GP recruitment campaigns in the area.”