Donegal South West Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has said that any downgrading of the NoWDOC service in County Donegal would be totally outrageous and an outright attack on rural communities. The Fianna Fáil Senator was speaking following a meeting between Donegal Oireachtas members and HSE Management last Friday.
Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “The NoWDOC service provides emergency out-of-hours GP care from several centres across the North West including Carndonagh, Letterkenny, Derrybeg and Mountcharles. HSE management have revealed that they propose to redeploy the reception staff from these outreach centres in Co Donegal, and centralise the reception service in Ballybofey.
“This proposed downgrading, together with the speculation that the NoWDOC service in 3 outreach centres will be withdrawn from 12 midnight to 8 am on weeknights, is totally and utterly unacceptable. It is claimed that local GPs in these areas are anxious to reduce the NoWDOC overnight shift because the HSE is withdrawing grant aid allowing GPs to employ a locum doctor for the midnight to 8am shifts.
“I understand that the HSE are awaiting proposals from the GPs on what alternatives they would propose. However it is my firm believe that there can be no downgrading whatsoever of the NoWDOC services in rural areas given the fact that these areas are up to 80 miles from Letterkenny General Hospital. The very fact that someone would need GP care in the middle of the night indicates that they are too ill or injured to wait until the morning, and they believe their case is urgent. Reducing the access to this urgent care could put patients in danger.
“I am today calling on the Minister for Health to intervene to ensure that emergency access to GP care is maintained at all centres in Co Donegal. I am also urging the GPs and the HSE to retain the service in its current format,” concluded Senator Ó Domhnaill