Working Life: Gerard Doherty, senior general assistant, Addiction Services, Castle St and Dr Steevens Hospital

Gerard Doherty, senior general assistant, Addiction Services, Castle St and Dr Steevens Hospital


It’s a half hour cycle from home in Coolock to the treatment centre at Dr Steevens, perfect for de-stressing and exercising.


My job primarily is to ensure the clinics are adequately staffed for the day. This morning someone is out sick and another staff member needs a day off, so I organise cover.


The clinic opens. I have a copy of the appointment list so I’m aware of who’s coming in to see a member of our multidisciplinary team and who is going straight to the pharmacy to pick up a methadone prescription. Occasionally, it may be obvious a client has been using and I would alert the pharmacist to that.


Clients are tested for heroin and other illegal drugs. There are a lot of ‘take-aways’ at the pharmacy, where clients can collect take-home doses of methadone. As people progress through treatment, they have less appointments with the multidisciplinary team, but they see a doctor regularly for urine analysis, to see if they are still using heroin.


A client comes in looking for a medical card and as the rehabilitation officer is out of the office, I print out the forms. We have about 140 clients on our books at Dr Steevens and about 200 at Castle St. It’s a fairly even balance between male and female, mostly in their 20s, although we see some aged over 60.

12 noon

The clinic closes and I write up attendance records.


I head to the tearoom for lunch.


We reopen. The clinic has been managed well so far today except for one little spat when a client was unable to get a prescription because they weren’t sober. I help talk them down. The nature of the service is that some who come in lead fairly chaotic lives and it can spill over into the clinic. The general assistant team helps keep things running smoothly.


I get a call from Castle St with a request to sort out a maintenance issue. I field regular calls from HSE management.


Hometime, unless I’m working late at the Castle St clinic. Golf and Liverpool FC dominate my downtime.

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