NowDOC out of hours services around the county are facing closure in January, it has emerged.
The plans to stop the overnight service in Derrybeg, Mountcharles and Carndonagh met with a furore when they became public last month.
But HSE sources say the plans are still very much in discussion and the out of hours service could be moved to Letterkenny as early as January.
A meeting last night of the NowDOC board, made up of local GPs, was to consider the future of the service and a meeting between unions and politicians has been called for Friday. Under the plans receptionists/call handler staff in the three outlying centres would be redeployed and the service would be centralised in Letterkenny where GPs and drivers would be based to cover the so-called red-eye shift from midnight to 8am shift.
Trade Union Impact has described the uncertainty about the future of the NowDOC service as an affront to the on-going health concerns to the decent people in Donegal. Fresh doubts have arisen about the future of the ‘red eye’ shift – midnight to 8am. The trade union has called a meeting about the dismantling of the NowDOC with all Donegal Oireachtas members in Letterkenny on Friday.
NowDOC is a partnership between the HSE and GPs. In a statement the HSE said both parties “are reviewing service provision arrangements to ensure that services can continue to be provided safely and efficiently”. “However, no proposal has been submitted to the HSE for consideration, therefore it would be premature for the HSE to make further comment at this time.” Impact North West spokesperson Richy Carrothers said: “I have very real concerns that proposals will emerge from the GP NowDOC Board that will effectively spilt the NowDOC service in its current format, particularly the ‘red eye’ shift.
“All in all the NowDOC service is disappearing before our very eyes and should the wishes of the HSE and the NowDOC Board be realised, undoubtedly there will be major risks to on the on-going health of service users in this county. Despite all of the polite words from the HSE, they have yet to ‘risk assess’ service provision after the Receptionist/Call Handler staff are redeployed.
“The erosion of the ‘red eye’ would be a further major blow and endanger patient safety. It is also very short sighted, in that the curtailment of the NowDOC service will likely lead to a greater number of people presenting themselves for treatment to both Letterkenny and Sligo General Hospitals – further increasing costs and waiting times in Accident and Emergency.”