SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin issued the call after it was revealed almost 600 people were waiting to be seen at the Brae Clinic in the Waterside.
Health Minister Robin Swann, in response to a Written Assembly question, confirmed to Ms. McLaughlin that clinics had had to be cancelled due to sicknesses and staff shortages.
In reference to waiting times at the Brae Clinic on Spencer Road specifically he said: “On June 11, 100 patients were waiting for their cancelled appointment to be rescheduled, as of September 16 these patients have all been seen. Staff are now working off a waiting list which commenced on July 7 and there are currently 597 patients waiting to be seen; 111 face to face contacts and 486 telephone consultations. The current waiting list within Brae Clinic is nine weeks.”
Ms. McLaughlin said: “Waiting lists and waiting times for access to contraception services in Derry and the wider Western Health area have become excessively long. I am extremely concerned to learn that there are nearly 600 patients waiting to be seen and that this represents a nine week queue for access.
“While I am very sympathetic to the situation facing the Western Trust as a result of the pandemic and staff vacancies, lack of access to contraception services may lead to serious social and medical difficulties for many patients. Family planning is an incredibly important service. It is essential that the Western Trust acts urgently to bring waiting lists and waiting times down as quickly as possible.”