The Northern Trust Area has seen a severe reduction in the provision of care in A&E's and restricted opening hours for Minor Injury Units see's the highest use of GP Out Of Hours Services in Northern Ireland.
Out Of Hours GP services are in the Northern Health Trust are provided by the private health company Dalriada Urgent Care. In all other Trusts the provision of Out Of Hours is the remit of the Trust.
Also see - NHS 111 Rejected By BMA in Northern IrelandCounty Down GP Gordon Kennedy said there would never be adequate resources to cope with the demand that would be created by the development of an urgent healthcare number.
GPs at the conference also expressed a desire to take back control of the out-of-hours GP services in the country, and voted in favour of asking the BMA Northern Ireland GPs committee to lead on the issue.
Transforming Your Care & Out Of Hours Services
With the gradual reduction of services in our hospitals through the Transforming YoourCare review health minister Edwin Poots will need to engage with GP's toensure that any reductions that are made within hospitals is back up with sufficient replacment models of services in the community and Our Of Hours service.
This leaves a serious concern; if the Out Of Hours service is at capacity and is it realistic to expect GP's to work more hours to meet these demands. If this is not dealt with in a way where the replacement service can cope this will lead to extra attendances at our already stretched A&E's and a higher demand on an ambulance service that is still struggling to plug the gaps left by closing the A&E in Mid Ulster.
Speaking at the annual Northern Ireland LMC conference, deputy chair of GPC Northern Ireland Dr Alan Stout said doctors had only to look at NHS 111 in England to see what could happen if GPs did not take a role in delivering out-of-hours services. LMC leaders backed a motion that said: 'The time is right for GPs to opt back into the organisation and commissioning of the delivery of GP out of hours’.
NIGPC chair, Dr Tom Black said integrated care partnerships — being introduced as part of the Transforming Your Care reforms — and GP federations would likely take responsibility for out-of-hours. The conference also passed a motion insisting that whoever is responsible for organising out of hours services, GPs should not be required to work outside of core contract hours.