17 May 2022

Staffing 'pressures' to blame for Dalriada access issues

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has blamed staffing pressures on patients experiencing recent difficulties accessing the Out of Hours GP

Staffing 'pressures' to blame for Dalriada access issues

Concerns were raised over cuts to weekend operating hours at Dalriada Urgent Care which recently moved to the Mid Ulster Hospital site.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has blamed staffing pressures on some Dalriada patients experiencing recent difficulties accessing the Out of Hours GP in Magherafelt.
Responding to concerns raised by Mid Ulster MLA Emma Sheerin last week, a HSCB spokesperson told the County Derry Post: “It is increasingly the case that all GP Out of Hours services across Northern Ireland are facing continued pressures in filling all available shifts, due to the reducing number of GPs who are willing and able to work within Out of Hours services.”
The Board were also keen to allay fears that the relocation from Moneymore to Magherafelt had resulted in a reduction in hours for the widely-used service.
“The Health and Social Care Board can confirm that there has been no reduction in funding nor planned GP Hours in the GP Out of Hours Service in the Mid Ulster area.
“When a patient calls Dalriada Urgent Care, a call handler will take the patient’s details and arrange for a GP or a Nurse to call them back.
"A decision is then made as to as to whether they need to be seen face to face or can be given advice over the telephone.
“Should a patient need to be seen by a GP, they will be offered an appointment at a suitable time.
"If there is no GP on shift in Mid-Ulster at that time or if the GP is unavailable because he or she is making home visits, patients will be offered the option to attend another base such as Ballymena, Antrim or Coleraine.
"On all occasions, patients can be assured that their medical needs will be safely met.
“Dalriada Urgent Care continues to work with the Health and Social Care Board and local GPs to maximise the numbers of GPs available to work in the out of hours service.”
The County Derry Post revealed last week that a number of people had experienced issues accessing the out-of-hours doctor service at its new Mid Ulster Hospital base.
Sinn Fein MLA Emma Sheerin said she had been contacted by two local mothers who both, on separate occasions, had been forced to travel to Antrim after being told the facility wasn't open on Saturday evenings.
The Mid Ulster Assembly woman highlighted the concerns to Northern Trust Chief Executive Tony Stevens.
Ms Sheerin said yesterday: "I welcome the response from HSCB, and indeed the invitation to meet with the team in Ballymena, which I am arranging for the coming week.
"I understand that pressures on staff have implications on services, and that no one can be in any two places at one time. "However, a local GP in an emergency context is a necessity, and thus I believe this should be prioritised."
The MLA added: "I am constantly getting told by local constituents that waiting time for GP appointments are irrational and unfair, and I know from personal experience that it can be stressful to get seen in a timely manner."

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