The chairperson of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley has called on the public not to seek an appointment with their GP unless it is urgent.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Dr McCauley said that interest in getting the booster vaccine had increased among the public in recent times.
GPs are trying to balance Covid and non-Covid care, he said, and the reduction in the wait time for the booster dose to three months would increase demand.
Dr McCauley said he imagined the change to three months would come into effect “in the next few days” which would put more pressure on GPs.
Over 75 per cent of general practices were giving boosters, mainly to the clinically vulnerable and on an age-related basis.
GPs had given approximately 80,000 doses, he said, with a new cohort being added, this would mean more pressure.
In general, Dr McCauley felt that the booster roll out programme was going well. He acknowledged there had been “a bit of frustration” at some delays, the “urgency had not been there,” but “everybody is doing their best”.
The HSE was in discussions with GPs looking at ways to increase capacity while GPs continued to “try to balance” their Covid and non-Covid work, said Dr McCauley.
Patients were being “very respectful”. Capacity had always been an issue with GPs, but Covid had made this worse, he added.
Dr McCauley said that the public needed to realise that the health service would be under more pressure with a more transmissible variant, and he urged people not to seek appointments with their GP if the complaint was not urgent and if they could to wait until after Christmas.
“That would be a good idea,” he said.