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Sinn Féin urge to rethink on Strabane Out of hours services

22 September, 2004

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, has described the Western Health and Social Services Board's (WHSSB) proposal to move the Out of Hours Service from Strabane Health Centre to Altnagelvin from January as completely flawed, and in a written submission as part of the consultation on the proposal he has called on the WHSSB to bring forward new proposals to the full Board meeting on the 30th September.

Mr Doherty said:

"There deep concern that the WHSSB Out of Hours Emergency Medical Services (OOH) proposals would reduce the access to this crucial element of Primary Health Care for huge numbers of people in the Strabane area. The proposals as they stand would locate all out of hours services for the people of Strabane, Derry and Limavady at a centralized site at Altnagelvin, from 1st January 2005.

The proposals will mean that:

  • Rather than access the OOH 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
  • There will be a on people on fixed incomes and benefits and the elderly as well as on those with physical and mental disabilities and those families with dependent
  • The logistical and financial burden for people with no access to private transport will prevent many people from seeking the medical attention they require
  • Increased isolation from OOH services for people living in rural areas of Strabane District
  • Areas where there exist high levels of ill health and deprivation, such as Strabane will be further disadvantaged.

"The consultation claims that only 4-5 patients make use of the service on a nightly basis. This means that 1,865 patients use this service locally each year. The WHSSB must balance its financial considerations with the fact that some of these people may not be alive today if they had not got access to this local service.

"Sinn Féin believes that the proposals, in relation to Strabane, are contrary to overarching governmental imperatives like Targeting Social Need (TSN) and equality directives like Section 75.

"The current proposals, in relation to Strabane, are deeply flawed. Per head of population more people in Strabane District seek Primary Health Care Services than anywhere else in the North, and Strabane tops the multi-deprivation league in a wide range of poverty related measures. I have argued that the WHSSB should be seeking to enhance Primary Health care Services in the District instead of proposing to strip a vital component of these services away. " ENDS

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