Making the most of your General Practice

Like everyone else in Clonakilty, I am pretty excited about the new Primary Care Centre built on the site of the old GAA field.

Rumours abound that all the GPs will be working together assisted by all their support staff.

My patients are under the impression there will be X-ray facilities, ultrasound, a small operating theatre and consultants will be doing clinics with GPs in the Centre, as part of an eminently sensible trend towards outreach clinics, to save travelling all the way up to Cork and getting a second mortgage to pay for car parking there, in CUH and so on! Sorry but this is not how I see it!

Only one Practice from Clonakilty is relocating there. Of course, in true HSE fashion the opening date for relocation is months behind schedule. Thus the Primary Care Centre is really a misnomer so far…

It is a spanking new building housing one practice, with physiotherapy and public health nurses relocating. If I am wrong would someone please tell me! I am a GP in Clonakilty and Timoleague and we have not been invited to move!

I hope, as time goes by, this can all be put right. I have huge respect for my GP colleagues and teams; give us the services that truly belong in a Primary Care Centre and we can achieve so much more.

I get so frustrated trying to book scans and appointments in the hospital; it wastes so much time.                As an aside; know how long it takes to do a brain scan? One hour, two hours? It takes 10 minutes and most CT scanners and MRI machines lie idle over the weekend. That is a lot of scanning time lost. Trying to negotiate and book a scan through the public system is measured in light years and aeons. Moan over…sorry about that!

Back to my point – many of your local GPs have had extra training; somebody just needs to ask us how we can make the Primary Care Centre live up to its potential.

On an amazing yet poignant note, when I worked in Liverpool, I did a skill survey of the local GPs. There were many surprises. None more so than a GP working right next to Anfield football club who had actually been a senior registrar in heart surgery at Broad Green Cardio Thoracic Centre in Liverpool.

He had to give up in order to bring up his daughter alone. General Practice suited him better in this new single parent role, and with a bit of will and co-operation, we got him doing advanced minor surgery from his own premises. It was hugely successful.

He later said to me that in his long career he had saved more lives taking off early skin malignancies than he ever would have done doing heart surgery. His youngest patient with a malignant melanoma, completely cured, was 10-years-of-age, giving her a normal 70-year-plus life expectancy. Serious food for thought.

That was just one example. We were very proud. Proper collaboration, asking the right questions, and taking a leap of faith, worked.

Dr Jeff Featherstone

Dr Jeff Featherstone is a West Cork GP and A&E doctor at Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

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