‘People like me will die’
A Cork woman with multiple health problems believes “lives will be lost” following news that out-of-hours services at her local SouthDoc are at risk of being removed.
Ann Foley, who lives in the remote region of Duhallow near Kanturk, suffers from kidney failure, diabetes, and adrenal insufficiency.
Ms Foley described recent news that out-of-hours services at Kanturk SouthDoc may be further curtailed to as early as 6pm as a “catastrophic decision”.
“People like me will die,” Ms Foley told the Cork Independent.
“SouthDoc Kanturk has saved lives. Numerous people in the area have had heart attacks and were saved because of the service. Our nearest A&E is Cork, 65km away from Newmarket on pretty damn bad roads. We rely on out-of-hours doctors,” she added.
Similar news surfaced recently regarding Fermoy SouthDoc which, from 18 July, will no longer provide any out-of-hours services.
People living in areas surrounding Fermoy and Kanturk now fear they will have to travel as far as Mallow to receive out-of-hours medical attention.
Ms Foley said it would take a person needing an out of hours doctor at least 45 minutes to get to Mallow from Ballydesmond or Rockchapel, which both would have relied heavily on Kanturk SouthDoc for medical emergencies.
The new Mayor of County Cork has vowed to win back the out-of-hours service at Fermoy SouthDoc which is set to end this month.
At Monday’s full meeting of Cork County Council, newly elected Mayor Cllr Frank O’Flynn described the decision to cease the out-of-hours service at Fermoy SouthDoc from 18 July as “absolutely crazy”.
Mr O’Flynn, who himself used the Fermoy SouthDoc on Christmas Day, said he is proud of the staff there but is very concerned about the impact the reduction of hours will have on people in the town and its surrounding areas.
“We will stand by the people in that area and regain that service,’ said the mayor.
Mr O’Flynn said he is especially upset with the way in which the hours reduction is being handled.
“They have a contract to provide it (the out of hours service) and I think they should stand by that contract. What is happening here, they're closing down the service in Fermoy by stealth, next it will be Mallow, next it will be Bandon.”
Mayor O’Flynn asked that the council write to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, the HSE, and SouthDoc for clarification on future plans for SouthDoc throughout the county.
“I'm very concerned and worried about the upset this has caused to the people out there who use the service. We're talking about the health of a whole community,” added Mr O’Flynn.
Fine Gael Cllr Noel McCarthy said he and his fellow local councillors have been raising the issue for over 2 years.
“We've written letters, we've asked for clarification on what their plans were, and we got letters back saying there's no threat to the service," said the councillor.
He added: “They didn't put in the 'but', and the 'but' this time is that they want to only have a service from 6pm to 10pm. The 10pm to the morning is the most important one as we all know, because young children, elderly people can get sick at any minute.”
Elected members unanimously agreed to send letters to the Minister for Health, the HSE and SouthDoc requesting clarification on future plans.