DUP Health Minister Jim Wells has vowed to urgently recruit GPs for the Out of Hours Service at Craigavon, according to his party colleague David Simpson MP.
However, the DUP MP for Upper Bann said his colleague admitted it was ‘proving very difficult’.
Mr Simpson called for a meeting with the minister following a significant number of complaints about long delays in call backs, appointments and treatment.
The MP said: “This situation is worsening particularly at weekends. I have been inundated with complaints and concerns about the length of time it takes for a call back from the Out-of-hours services and also to get an appointment.
“One family just this weekend had two very ill children with suspected glandular fever and they had to wait eight hours before getting a call back.
“This is totally unacceptable.
“I requested an urgent meeting with the Minister who has given assurances that he is working to urgently recruit General Practitioners for the Out of Hours service but it was proving very difficult given the long hours that GPs are currently working and with the increased workload in their own practices,” he told the ‘MAIL’.
“There needs to be a better, more focused system created that will allow nurses, and pharmacists to assist in diagnosis for more minor ailments and the Minister has given assurances that he is working towards this end goal.
“There is clearly a GP shortage occurring and this is something that needs addressed urgently.
“We need to be tackling this problem at the source and be working with our universities to inspire and engage with young graduates to remain in Northern Ireland and give service to the community for a prescribed period of time,” said the Upper Bann MP.
“The cost of educating a doctors is significant on the Department and I believe there needs to be a very clear incentive or process that they must follow to serve in Northern Ireland for a period of time before going elsewhere in the world to practice.
“Ultimately what we see happening is that Northern Ireland is becoming a training ground for the rest of the world.
“I will be working closely with Minister Wells and the Trust over the coming days and weeks to implement their planned changes to help address this escalating problem,” said Mr Simpson.