Health Minister Robin Swann recognises GP out-of-hours pressures but points to high Western Urgent Care patient satisfaction

The Health Minister Robin Swann has said he is aware of the pressures facing GP out-of-hours (OOH) in the Derry and Strabane area.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 2:54 pm

However, he pointed to the high satisfaction levels reported by users of the Western Urgent Care service locally.

Mr. Swann said: “I am very aware of the pressures faced by the GP OOHs service across NI due to demand and difficulties filling GP shifts.

“The provision of the service is a priority, and we continue to work closely with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the OOHs providers to address the current challenges.

“Service improvements continue to be introduced including adjusting the skill mix of clinicians, increasing levels of nurse triage provision, employing more nurse practitioners and increasing flexibility in shift times.”

The new health minister was asked what actions his Department was taking to increase urgent care provision in Strabane, in particular, by the West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan.

He said Western Urgent Care regularly evaluates its service to ensure it matches local need.

“Western Urgent Care routinely reviews its operating model in order to meet the health needs of the local community and effectively manages its capacity.

“The local population are encouraged to utilise the service appropriately to meet urgent health care needs which cannot wait to be seen by their registered practice when it reopens,” said Mr. Swann.

The health minister noted that there are “approximately 108,000 patient contacts per annum” and that “regular patient surveys carried out by WUC indicate high levels of patient satisfaction”.