The Out of Hours (OOHs) centres in Armagh and Dungannon will remain “temporarily” closed, the Southern Health Trust has confirmed.
In July, the Trust said it was temporarily closing its Armagh, South Tyrone and Kilkeel centres until at least the end of August when the move will be reviewed. That was more than two months ago.
The change saw the service centralise base appointments to two locations, Daisy Hill Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital.
It was understood there was significant pressure placed on the OOHs service, commonly referred to as the doctor on call, for the weeks leading up to the decision. At the time 80% of the GP rota remained unfilled for the rest of the summer.
However, the passing of time has not brought about any changes with the regional review “ongoing” according to the Trust.
Speaking to Armagh I, a Southern Trust spokesperson, said: “The Urgent Care Out of Hours Service is primarily a telephone-based service, offering advice and treatment to everyone living in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area with urgent medical symptoms that cannot wait until their own GP reopens.
“The vast majority of service users have their enquiries resolved through telephone contact. In a small number of cases there is a need for attendance at an OOHs base and currently base appointments continue to be temporarily limited to the Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area Hospital sites.
“Therefore, this temporary change should only affect those minority of patients who need to travel for an appointment.
“Any patient assessed as requiring a home visit from OOHs staff, will continue to receive this. The Regional Review of the Urgent Care Out of Hours Service is ongoing.
“Patients should always phone first to access our team of GPs, Pharmacists and Nurses. Most people will receive telephone advice and a small number may require a home visit.”
It operates on week days from 6pm to 8am, weekends and bank holidays.
Only those with urgent medical symptoms that cannot wait until their GP surgery reopens should call the urgent care out of hours service on 028 3839 9201.
Anyone with potentially life threatening symptoms should go to the Emergency Department or call 999.
You can also use the NI symptom checker at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/illnesses-and-conditions