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Doctor shortage may mean temporary closure of two GP out of hours clinics

A shortage of GP cover in the Southern area over the summer months may mean the area being covered by three instead of five out of hours centres – with Armagh and Kilkeel closed during times of particular pressure.

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is alerting local people that whilst there will be reduced opening times at the Armagh and Kilkeel GP out of hours centres over the summer months, both will be opened with GPs present over the holiday weekend, from tomorrow (Friday), July 11, through to Monday, July 14.

The Trust’s GP Out of Hours Service runs across three main bases at Craigavon Area, Daisy Hill and South Tyrone hospitals with two part time satellite centres at Tower Hill, Armagh and Kilkeel Health Centre.

Director of Older People and Primary Care Angela McVeigh explains: ‘Whilst we have a number of very dedicated GPs working in the out of hours service, we have been experiencing a considerable challenge for some time in ensuring sufficient doctors to open all bases daily.

“We are committed to providing a safe and comprehensive service to all people across the Southern area. During those times when the service is under particular pressure there may be insufficient GPs to cover all shifts. In which case available GPs will be located at Newry, Dungannon and Craigavon to enable the out of hours service to provide home visits, appointments at these bases and telephone triage across the whole of the Southern area.

“In most cases, patients can be advised over the phone and the GP home visiting service will continue as normal. Over the summer months, when we will have fewer GPs, the Trust may be forced to reduce the facility for face to face appointments in Armagh and Kilkeel.

“This will mean that patients requiring an appointment with the doctor will be offered to attend one of the three centres most convenient to them – either Newry, Dungannon or Craigavon.”

The Trust says the GP out of hours service should only be used for urgent medical problems that cannot wait until your own GP practice re-opens. You should always phone first on 028 3839 9201 if you need to use the service.

Ms McVeigh continueD: “We apologise for any inconvenience any temporary closures will cause for patients and, in the meantime, we continue to work with GPs, the Local Commissioning Group and the Health and Social Care Board to develop a sustainable, long term model for providing urgent out of hours care across the Southern Trust.”

Updates will be available through the Trust Facebook (Southern Health and Social Care Trust) and Twitter (@SouthernHsct) pages.

Information on how and when to contact GP out of hours, minor ailments and what to do in an emergency can be found on www.gpoutofhours.hscni.net

 

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