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Doherty seeks assurances about future ‘Out of Hours’ provision in Strabane and Limivady

21 January, 2008

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty is seeking assurances from health authorities that there are no plans in the pipeline to transfer the 'Out of Hours' service from Strabane and Limivady to Derry.

The local MP said,

"In 2004, the Western Health & Social Services proposed the centralization of all Out of Hours' services in Derry, Strabane and Limavady at the Altnagelvin site. In written submissions to the subsequent consultation into these proposals in 2004, I in my capacity as MP for the area, along with local council and many others strongly objected to the proposal to re-locate these vital services out of Strabane. Thankfully the strength of the argument for retaining the Out of Hours service from Strabane was given due consideration and the proposal was withdrawn.

"However, with the recent announcement that Out of Hours services on Derry's west bank are now moving to Altnagelvin, there is growing speculation and concern that the original proposals are once again 'live' and that the centralization of these services within Derry could be the prelude to the incremental transfer of the Strabane and Limivady 'Out of Hours.'

"I have therefore written to the Chief Executives of the both the Western Health and Social Services Board and the Western Health & Social Care Trust and as well as submitting an urgent written question to Health Minister Michael Mc Gimpsey seeking assurances that there are no plans in the pipeline to transfer Out of Hours from either Strabane or Limavady in line with the original 2004 proposal.

"In my letters to the Board and Trust I have also re-iterated the reasons why the transfer of Out of Hours from Strabane, or Limivady, should not be considered including;

  • Highlighting the logistical and financial burden this would cause for people with no access to private transport and how this could prevent many people from seeking the medical attention they urgently require.
  • How it would further limit access to Out of Hours services for people living in rural areas of both districts.
  • How it would increase the disparities in ill health and deprivation levels already existing in both districts.
  • That rather than accessing the Out of Hours Centre at Altnagelvin, the first point of contact for many people will be the A&E at Altnagelvin. This will create an extra burden for A&E services - something that the provision of enhanced primary care services was supposed to prevent.

"Given the renewed speculation about the future of Out of Hours service provision in Strabane and Limivady, I am calling upon the relevant health authorities to clarify the matter as soon as possible." ENDS

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