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Sinn Féin call for evaluation of nighttime out-of-hours health services

30 September, 2005


Sinn Féin health spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA is calling on the health minister Shaun Woodward to carry out a full evaluation on nighttime out-of-hours health services in the North.

The call follows the publication of research conducted in England which shows that a year after most GPs in England opted out of providing out-of-hours cover, 45% of GP's said standards had dropped, with patients facing long delays.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Sinn Féin expressed concerns at the time of the introduction of the new OOH structures in the Six Counties that patient care might suffer, particularly for people living in rural areas some distance away from the more centralised out-of-hours facilities. This survey also showed that a third of doctors thought the move had led to increased demand on local A&E services and increased waiting times.

"Clearly there is a need for the health service in the North to also look at the impact of the OOH service structures in the North in view of these results in order to ensure that standards in levels of patient care have not declined. The re-structured OOH services will be one year in operation at the end of December, and I believe that the NIO health minister Shaun Woodward should now order a complete evaluation of the service to establish if there has been any similar adverse impact on patient care." ENDS

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