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Visit your GP... in the Post Office? Kildare branch trialling new doctor service

The post office in Ballymore Eustace will be the first to offer the VideoDoc service.

Image: Finbarr O'Rourke

IT HAS LONG been cited by supporters of the post office network in Ireland that they offer a lifeline to rural communities up and down the country.

With the future of the post office at risk, postmasters have urged An Post to adapt and change with the times to secure the network’s future.

In a bid to modernise the services on offer, one branch in Kildare has launched VideoDoc, offering online GP and medical consultations from a booth inside the post office itself.

Fogarty’s Quickpick and Post Office in Ballymore Eustace will become the pilot for the project and, if successful, it be will be launched nationwide.

The VideoDoc booth will primarily cater for minor ailments and straightforward consultations.

Doctors will be able to triage, treat, diagnose, prescribe and follow-up with patients. The booth will also offer access to health consultations such as dermatology.

The booth – called “The Hub” – will also offer access to additional services such as dermatology, printing, laminating, internet access, phone charging and a coffee area.

VideoDoc CEO Mary O’Brien said: “This online GP consultation service is ideally suited for communities where access to traditional GP support may be difficult and postmasters are the ideal providers of the booth, given the centrality of their premises and public trust they are held in.”

videodoc post4 Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

Irish Postmasters’ Union general secretary Ned O’Hara said that the initiative demonstrates how the role of postmasters can be adapted and expanded in the modern, technology-driven world.

In January 2016, the Post Office Network Business Development Group published a report (called the Bobby Kerr report) on how post offices could be saved – through expanding commercial potential and government-level changes.

However, An Post has warned that the whole system could collapse if the number of post offices in the country is maintained at its current level.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Prime Time, An Post Chief Executive David McRedmond recently said that 265 branches were found to be “near no discernible area of population” and the company had to “be real” about their prospects.

Read: 265 post offices serve ‘no discernible area of population’

Read: The long, slow death of the Irish post office

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