186 patients seen in first fortnight of reduced cover

THREE mobile doctors and a triage nurse saw 186 patients in the first fortnight of a new reduced GP out-of-hours cover regime that kicked in last month across the Western area.

Paul Cavanagh, Commissioning Lead of the Health and Social Care Board, wrote to Derry City Council on October 20, to advise that 186 face-to-face consultations were carried out by the Western Urgent Care GP out-of-hours service between October 1 and October 15.

The service operates across Londonderry, Limavady, Strabane, Omagh and Enniskillen during the Red-Eye Shift - between midnight and 8.30am.

The planned reduction was put back until September 30 to allow adequate time for nurse advisors to carry out the appropriate training needed to carry out triage.

Now monitoring of the service for the period October 1 - October 15 shows that 186 face-to-face consultations were carried out and that just one of these was classed as urgent.

Western Urgent Care received 432 calls during the redeye shift; 243 of these calls resulted in telephone advice; the remaining 189 required a face-to-face consultation, i.e. base attendance or home visit.

Of the 189 face-to-face consultations, one was urgent, 70 less urgent and 116 routine. Two people did not attend consultations at GP out-of-hour bases across the Western area.

Another patient in the routine category was not given an appointment to see a GP, but was instead referred to the Community Psychiatric Nurse later that day.

Of the 186 patients who had face-to-face consultation, 186 (100 per cent) were seen within the timescales specified in the NI Quality Standards.

In a letter to Derry City Council Mr Kavanagh explained: “I refer to previous correspondence of February 23 and June 18, in which I outlined the changes to staffing arrangements of the GP out-of-hours service.

“These changes came into effect on September 30. As agreed previously, Western Urgent Care and the Health and Social Care Board will prepare fortnightly monitoring reports following the introduction of the new arrangements.

“Therefore, I now attach, for your information, a copy of the first fortnightly monitoring report which relates to the period October 1 - October 15. You will note that the timescales specified in the N Ireland Quality standards have been met for this period.

The first fortnightly report shows usage of the service was similar to that revealed by an analysis in February 2010 which found that during the Red-Eye Shift - there were an average of 7.1 face-to-face consultations at Altnagelvin, 2.3 at Limavady Health Centre, and 2.4 at Strabane Health Centre. In Omagh the figure was 3 and in Enniskillen 3.4 - 18.2 per Red-Eye shift across the entire Western area