Arlene Fitzsimons

3,254 calls to NEDOC over Christmas

The North East Doctor on Call service was exceptionally busy over Christmas, managing 3,254 calls from Christmas Eve until Wednesday morning 29th December.

The service was busier than last year and the vast majority of calls (2,313) were dealt with by phone consultations with GPs, a situation that was inevitable given the explosion of covid cases.

A further 374 patients who required further assessment were seen in the treatment centres.

“We received a lot of calls from patients looking to get a PCR test booked via NEDOC as they were unable to get appointments via the self-refer system,” says operations manager, Arlene Fitzsimons.

“Many of those patient were advised at the point of contact to continue to try to self-refer as the service was exceptionally busy managing patients who were acutely unwell.

“Hopefully more PCR test centres will open up in the coming days – and in advance of the New Year – which will enable patients to self-refer, as this is an unnecessary workload to put on the out of hours service – and daytime GP practice – when GP services are already under pressure.”

Ms Fitzsimons said thatl GPs working in daytime practice in the North East region are working over the course of Christmas and New Year to ensure patients have access to acute out of hours care.

“We are fortunate to have been able to utilise the healthcare workers derogation or NEDOC would have had to operate a depleted service over these two long weekends

“Even with the derogation, GPs have come in to cover colleagues who tested positive and who did not meet the derogation criteria.

“We anticipate a busy New Year weekend, and ask that anyone with covid symptoms try to book their appointment via the self-refer system,” she said.