Local GP services came under the spotlight as a Sinn Fein delegation met with senior health officials.
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd and Cllr Tommy O’Connor met a number of officials including Dr Sloan Harper, Director of Integrated Care on the Health and Social Care Board.
Mr O’ Dowd said: “Our meeting with Health Board officials came on the back of concerns raised with us about the length of time some of our constituents were experiencing in awaiting GP appointment and a leaked report about low morale in the Out of Hours GP services. It is also a follow up to our meeting with local Health Officials.”
He continued, “In the weeks running up to the meeting, we undertook an online survey to garner experiences of local people in obtaining GP services.
“The result of this sample survey shows that about 60% of respondents found some difficulty in obtaining a GP appointment which suited them. Interestingly, our sample survey largely reflects a much broader survey carried out by the Patients Client Council in May of this year.”
Mr O’Dowd added, “The discussion with Dr Sloan and his team was very informative and we took the opportunity to impress upon them the concerns which our constituents had reported to us.
“The complex area of GP contracts largely governs how GP services are delivered and while there are no specific restrictions on the number of patients any one GP surgery can have, the Health Board can intervene if evidence suggests that services are being affected by too few GPs and too many patients.”
Mr O‘Dowd reiterated the purpose of the meeting was fact finding and in support of primary health care services whish play such a vital role in the overall health service.
Cllr Tommy O’Connor said: ““The Health Board were able to inform us that complaints about GP services are relatively low. The low level of complaints is encouraging and a reflection of the dedication of GPs and their staff, but, it’s also important if someone has a complaint they register it.
“The vast a majority of complaints are resolved quickly and through informal procedures and if anyone requires further information they can contact the Patient Client Council on 028 3834 9900.”