Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has told the Dáil that the NoWDOC service in Donegal must be non negotiable. Deputy McConalogue raised the matter in the Dáil on Tuesday, calling on the Government to protect the current levels of out of hours GP services in the interest of patients.
In response, Junior Health Minister Roisin Shorthall said the HSE were not currently considering any proposal that would see a reduction in the out of hours GP service at the four centres in Donegal. Deputy McConalogue welcomed these comments but said he remained concerned that Department of Health and the HSE were not making it absolutely clear that it is their policy to ensure there will be no cutbacks to NoWDOC in the future.
Commenting following his Dáil exchange with Minister Shorthall, Deputy McConalogue said: “The NoWDOC services at Carndonagh, Letterkenny, Derrybeg and Mountcharles are absolutely essential and must not be diluted in any way. I am concerned by the fact that the Minister for Health James Reilly and the HSE are not willing to state clearly that they are fully committed to protecting this service ahead of their upcoming discussions with GPs on how NoWDOC operates in Donegal.
“NoWDOC is currently operated by support staff provided by the HSE, while local GPs cooperate by covering the NoWDOC rota. It is essential that HSE and Minister for Health take the firm position that the service must be protected in full, when they enter negotiations with GPs. The inability of the Minister and HSE to make their position clear is a cause of real concern.
“Over 36,000 people were treated by the NoWDOC past year at a cost to the HSE of €3.168 million. As the Government work out the health budget for next year, they must ensure that this service is simply non-negotiable for the people of Donegal,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.