The long-term future of Inishowen’s NowDoc medical service is in doubt.
A review of the out-of-hours service is underway.
Possible changes could result in CareDoc, the organisation supplying GPs to NowDoc, taking over the region.
Under the proposals, the NowDoc call centre and triage would operate out of Carlow instead of Letterkenny or Carndonagh.
As a result, a lack of local geographical knowledge could affect the delivery of care for patients.
The Inishowen Independent asked the HSE what the implications for any proposed changes could mean for Inishowen and whether the service would still be based in Carndonagh in future – but the HSE has given no answer.
Buncrana TD Padraig MacLochlainn told the Inishowen Independent that any reduction in the weekend and night-time GP service would be unacceptable.
“NowDoc provides crucial out-of-hours service and is a massive support to GP practices and hospitals.”
“Any diminishing of services, whether it means a reduction in the number of staff, redeployment of staff, people having to travel further, talk to a centralised call centre or pay additional costs, will not be acceptable.”
“Changes to the out-of-hours service should be welcomed if they clearly enhance the service provided to patients but not if they can be seen to diminish the
Deputy MacLochlainn said it would be “unthinkable” that any reduction in the service could come at a time when our health service is already “overwhelmed
as it is”.
“Such significant changes to our out-of-hours services could have disastrous consequences,” he said.
“This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to cut
back and dilute our NowDoc services in the region. We now must resist this attempt to reduce the service as we have done before.”
“I have contacted the HSE demanding an urgent meeting to address this issue,” he said.
Last year during busy periods, NowDoc struggled to cope with demand, including over the Halloween bank holiday weekend, when the public here was asked for patience as the service was “very busy and experiencing a high volume of calls”.