The health minister has revealed Western Urgent Care is facing difficulties in filling shifts at the GP Out of Hours in Limavady.
Michelle O’Neill was responding to an Assembly question from DUP MLA George Robinson who asked is “whether she will review the out-of-hours provision at Scroggy Road health centre, Limavady?”
The minister explained the GP Out of Hours (OOH) service in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area is provided by Western Urgent Care (WUC) across five bases - Altnagelvin, Enniskillen, Limavady, Omagh and Strabane.
“Like other out of hours providers, WUC faces challenges due to increasing demand and difficulty in filling shifts,” the minister said.
“The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) monitors the performance of out of hours service providers on an ongoing basis and is aware of the difficulties being faced by WUC in filling shifts in Limavady.”
The Minister said the HSCB and WUC have taken a number of steps to increase GP capacity and fill OOH shifts within the Trust area, including actively seeking the support of GPs to work a number of sessions in their local OOHs centre, liaising with members of the Local Medical Committee to encourage GPs to work out of hours and recruiting more nursing staff to ensure that the pool of Nurse Advisors is sufficient to fill all telephone triage shifts.
The minister said: “In addition to core funding for OOH services, further funding will be available for WUC in 2016/17 to support extra clinical capacity where it is needed most, support additional Bank Holiday clinical capacity and develop skills mix.”
Michelle O’Neill also said her Department recently led a review of GP out-of-hours services across the north. She said she would consider carefully the issues highlighted in the working group’s report, together with the recommendations and actions, and will respond in due course.