Working Life: Dr Martin Coyne, GP, Co Donegal

Dr Martin Coyne: I watch a medical education webinar which I have saved from the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP). These webinars have educated GPs in real time at the height of the Covid crisis. 
Working Life: Dr Martin Coyne, GP, Co Donegal
Dr Martin Coyne.

8am

I watch a medical education webinar which I have saved from the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP). These webinars have educated GPs in real time at the height of the Covid crisis. 

We were learning literally day by day about the ever-changing situation, and the ICGP was fantastic. During the webinar, breakfast is tea and a bowl of bran.


9am

At our Lifford surgery, a big practice with six GPs, we begin triaging patients by phone. Prior to Covid, I saw patients all morning. 

Now we don’t see anyone without prior triage. Some patients don’t need to come in. 

Those who do are given strict appointment times. Full waiting rooms are a thing of the past for now. I wear surgical scrubs, facemask, apron, glasses to protect myself and the patient.

I hand wash when the patient comes in and before they leave, to get the message home.


11am

A mother phones about a sick child. Prior to Covid, one in four patients was a child. Now, with social distancing and better hand hygiene, there’s far less community transmission of childhood illnesses - coughs, colds, diarrhoea.


12.30pm

I visit the home of a patient who is undergoing chemotherapy to do bloods.

2pm

Normally, we do a lot of osteoporosis care - a bone disease that causes bones to become brittle and weak - but we had to put our Dexa scanning service which measures bone density, on hold. 

We are back at it. I write my reports.

Our practice nurse contacts patients by phone to come in for overdue osteoporosis injections.

4pm

I carry out some minor surgery on a patient, a novel experience in the current climate. 

We’re more relaxed about seeing patients now, although the numbers are vastly reduced because everything takes longer - wiping down surfaces between patients, donning PPE and spending lots of time doing phone consultations.

Just after lockdown, we divided our practice staff into two teams, meeting over Zoom to cut the risk of cross-infection.

6pm

I head to the community hospital to talk to a patient about end-of-life planning. Since Covid, I think there has been a mindset change and it’s now normal to have this conversation. 

Back at home, I throw the scrubs in the wash and shower. 

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