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GPs asked to join 40 'hubs' cutting patient contact time

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Hub medical staff will wear full protective gear. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

Hub medical staff will wear full protective gear. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

REUTERS

Hub medical staff will wear full protective gear. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

GPs are being asked to sign up to work in 40 "hubs" that the HSE intends to open across the country where people who have confirmed or suspected coronavirus can visit for medical care.

The hubs will also deal with patients who do not have the virus but have chronic illness amid serious concerns that they are deteriorating at home because of a reluctance to go to hospital.

It is understood GPs have been told by letter that the hubs - to be located in primary care centres or HSE-owned buildings - will aim to provide direct medical care to people who are suffering complications from the virus and may be deter- iorating.

The patient would first contact their own GP over the phone and have to get a referral to one of the hubs.

The hub's GP, who would be in full protective gear, could examine the patient and dec-ide if they need to be sent to hospital, discharged home or receive additional supports while self-isolating.

The hub is seen as a way of relieving pressure on hospitals as the number of people infected increases and the surge in infections intensifies.

The letter to GPs says community hubs are to be locat- ed at 40 sites around the country and will be opening on a phased basis but within a short period.

They will operate seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.

Voluntary

Participation in the hub is voluntary for GPs, and no doctor over the age of 60 can participate.

The hubs will be staffed by GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals and administrative staff.

"The patient flow within the hub has been designed to mini- mise the patient contact time - for the protection of staff and other patients - and all personal protective equipment, cleaning and other supports will be provided within each hub setting," the letter says.

It says it is a "big ask of GPs", but the more who take part, the lesser the burden.

It also expresses concern that many patients with non-coronavirus illnesses are deteriorating in the community.

Meanwhile, Cork University Maternity Hospital and Ireland South Women and Infants Dir- ectorate have worked with the INFANT Research Centre at University College Cork to introduce a secure video messaging platform in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Under normal circumstances, having a baby in the unit can be a time of significant emotional distress and anxiety for parents.

Due to the virus, significant restrictions on access to the unit means that only mothers can visit for limited periods during the day.

These necessary measures, which have been put in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, have added to the stress parents face when their newborn infant requires neonatal unit admission.