GP Out of Hours bases ‘closed 347 times in 8 months’

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Friday, November 3rd, 2017
Community, Politics

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has claimed the GP Out of Hours Bases across the Southern Trust have been closed to the public a staggering 347 times over the last eight months.

He has called for a fundamental review of the way the system operates.



Speaking to Newry Times, McNulty explained, “The GP Out Of Hours Service is an essential service. It is not there to replace your local GP Service and should only be relied upon out of hours for cases which do not merit being dealt with at the Emergency Department.

“Upon contacting the GP Out of Hours Service, triage is completed over the phone and a decision is made for the patient to either come to the local base in either Armagh, Craigavon, Dungannon, Kilkeel or Newry. 

“Alternatively a home visit by the GP is arranged or the patient may be directed to the nearest emergency department in Newry or Craigavon.”



The local MLA continued, “However over recent months I have become increasingly concerned at the way the service has been operated. Too often people from Armagh and Kilkeel are being told that the local Out of Hours Base is closed due to lack of medical cover and they have been directed to go to Craigavon, Dungannon or Newry.

“The Kilkeel base was closed 104 times, Dungannon 91, Armagh 77, Craigavon 39 and Newry 36 times over the period January to August. The ironic fact is that Dungannon has a Minor Injuries Unit, Craigavon and Newry have Emergency Departments whereas Armagh and Kilkeel are left with nothing. This is simply not acceptable.



“I want to see a fundamental review of the service,” McNulty stated. “The problem remains that we are depending on GP’s, many of whom have already completed a day’s work in their own surgery to come and operate the out of hours service. 

He added, “We need to get to the point where the service is standalone and lets GP’s do their day jobs, and have a quota or directly recruited GP’s dedicated to running an out of hours service so that it is functional at all times. This is something which must be reviewed as a priority.”

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