GP service 'tipping' towards wind-up


THE SOUTHDOC service, which provides out-of-hours family doctor cover in Cork and Kerry, is in financial difficulty and is “tipping towards the edge of falling over the cliff towards a wind-up operation”, an Employment Appeals Tribunal heard yesterday.

Seventeen SouthDoc employees appeared before a hearing of the tribunal following a decision by their employer to impose a pay cut of 10 per cent in 2009.

The employees are drivers and receptionists at South West Doctors on Call Ltd, trading as SouthDoc, and were represented by the Independent Workers Union.

They are appealing a decision by a rights commissioner ordering SouthDoc to compensate the workers by reversing the imposed pay cut over a period of five weeks from the date when it was imposed to the date when a complaint was received.

The workers want the pay cut reversed in its entirety.

SouthDoc is also appealing the decision of the rights commissioner to the tribunal and disputes the case that an unlawful deduction was made.

Deirdre Crowley, solicitor for SouthDoc, said any compensation ordered “would spell the end” of 179 jobs at SouthDoc, including the jobs of the employees involved in the case and those of 157 colleagues.

SouthDoc, a limited company, was established in 2001 to provide GP cover to people Cork and Kerry outside normal business hours. The co-operative has a membership of almost 500 doctors

Its employees were awarded parity of pay with employees of the Health Service Executive by the Labour Court in 2005. SouthDoc is funded by the HSE.

The tribunal heard that the company had experienced a 34 per cent overall cut in funding since 2007 and that between 2008 and 2010 there were more than 60 voluntary and compulsory redundancies and retirements from it.

The hearing resumes next January.