THE Shannondoc 24-hour service is to be rolled out to Limerick city in September.
The move will result in an additional 90,000 people being able to avail of the service which already serves Clare, north Tipperary and Limerick county.
Shannondoc has been in place since 2002.
Yesterday, manager of the service, Larry Maher, said the roll-out of the scheme across Limerick city had been agreed in principle with the HSE. “There is a lot of work to do yet, but this is a very positive development,” he said.
Shannondoc serves 275,000 people in the mid-west and the proposed move will increase the number to an estimated 365,000.
Mr Maher said: “It completes the service for the mid-west and obviously the way the service is configured, we will get the best use of the equipment and facilities that we have.”
A HSE national review of GP services last year recommended Limerick city — one of the areas not covered by an out-of-hours service — come under the scheme. It stated each region without coverage must engage with non-participating GPs to ensure 100% out-of-hours coverage nationally.
The other areas that were not covered at the time of the audit were Dundalk, Sligo, Tallaght, Tullamore, Moate and Edenderry.
There are an estimated 60 GPs in Limerick city in the scheme.
Last year, it emerged Shannondoc made a €350,000 settlement with the Revenue Commissioners for a tax liability concerning the employment of locum doctors.
The latest figures for Shannondoc relate to 2009 and show the service handled 99,470 calls that year — an increase of 4,253 or 4.5% on the number of calls received in 2008.
In spite of the increase in calls to Shannondoc and the service increasing revenues by over €400,000 to €6.4 million, losses increased by more than two-fold in 2009 from €66,329 to €141,487.
The figures show that in 2009, Shannondoc received €4.7m from the HSE — an increase of €60,000 on the funding it received in 2008.