Independent Councillor Raymond Barr and Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy raised the issue during discussion on a presentation by representatives from Western Urgent Care at a recent Council committee meeting.
This was a topic a number of other councillors also raised concerns about including Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson, DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney, UUP Alderman Derek Hussey and Sinn Féin Councillor Michaela Boyle.
Colr. Duffy said: “I have to say it is undoubtable the pressure you are under in the out of hours service and that’s before we talk about Covid and the pressures that have come with that.
“Some of the issues we have been picking up from our constituents is around their inability to get face to face services with the GP.
“With more and more people being vaccinated, how soon can we see that service resume, particularly for our elderly population who feel that they need that face to face interaction with someone?”
Colr. Ferguson added: “I have a lot of older residents who are concerned they aren’t getting to see their GP face to face. They are being offered the technical options but they don’t feel confident enough to use it.”
Colr. Boyle said she understood ‘things are done differently now in terms of access to your GP’, however, she felt ‘we aren’t set up for doing them and therein lies the problem’.
Responding to the matter raised, Ms Ward said: “We still do have face-to-face appointments to offer to patients. We recognise the technology solution is not for everyone, sometimes you actually feel you need to be seen and we do get patients who say they have had the telephone triage but they want to see someone face to face.
“We also do home visits for the elderly and infirm so we do have quite a number of face-to-face appointments.”
By GIllian Anderson
Local Democracy Reporter