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Heroic local GPs handled a record number of calls over the New Years weekend as many of their colleagues were affected by Covid-19.

The North East Doctor on Call service was exceptionally busy over the weekend, with additional doctors coming in to handle the workload.

NEDOC managed 3,456 patients over the New Years holidays and a total of 7,318 patients over the Christmas and New Years period, up from 6,544 at the same time last year when Delta was the variant of concern.

“It was our busiest Christmas / New Year yet with so many calls regarding symptoms of Covid and requests for PCR testing,” said operations manager Arlene Fitzsimons.

Over the weekend, general practitioners handled a total of 2,838 calls (82 percent).

Although some doctors fell ill or isolated themselves from Covid-19, their sessions in the cooperative were covered by their colleagues, in addition to the shifts they were already working and their day surgery work in the middle. week.

“It is truly an honor for all of the GPs working in the area, who have now all returned to normal day surgery hours for GPs,” Ms. Fitzsimons said.

The vast majority of calls were handled by telephone consultations with doctors, as patients called to request PCR tests as they could not get an appointment through the self-referral reservation system.

“The main concern of general practitioners working in the centers was that more acute cases would have difficulty accessing the service,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

“We expect the service to continue to be busy for the remainder of January as the Omicron variant hits its estimated peak in mid-January.”

The department was also exceptionally busy over Christmas, handling 3,254 calls from Christmas Eve through Wednesday morning December 29.

The service was more crowded than last year and the vast majority of calls (2,313) were handled by telephone consultations with general practitioners, a situation that was inevitable given the explosion in Covid cases.

Another 374 patients who required further evaluation were seen in treatment centers.

“We were fortunate to be able to use the waiver for healthcare workers, otherwise NEDOC would have had to operate an exhausted service during those two long weekends,” Ms Fitzsimons said.