Action needed on returning GP services to pre-Covid arrangements

The DUP’s East Londonderry MLA Maurice Bradley has acknowledged the initiatives announced by Health Minister Robin Swann this week to improve stroke care and rebuild orthopaedic surgery, but says that the Health Minister now needs to act on getting GP surgeries back to pre-covid working arrangements.

By Maurice Bradley MLA

East Londonderry

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Maurice Bradley says he has had constituents in his office in tears because they are unable to get to see a GP.

“These complaints are happening on an almost daily basis. People simply cannot get in to see their GPs. We heard in the past about these so-called high tech telephony systems in place to triage calls to surgeries, but from what I am hearing people still cannot get through.

People are hanging on for hours and then they are told that there are no appointments left.

This flawed system is having a detrimental impact on our hospitals and this is why we are seeing announcements from the Trust on an almost weekly basis about A&E’s being under ‘extreme pressure’.

It would appear that GP surgeries in the Coleraine area are still working under covid rules. My constituents feel it is near impossible to get through a GP’s door, yet the hospital staff and indeed the staff in the treatment rooms in these surgeries must get on with their work as normal.

If these surgeries are signed up to a contract with the Department of Health, then surely they have a duty of care to their patients. If they are not providing a service then they are in breach of their contract. I would be interested to know how many appointments are available in comparison to pre-covid times.

In the Coleraine area, some patients are being told they must ring before 10.30am in order to get an appointment, but most are still waiting in large queues well past that time, and when they do get through there is nothing left. This cannot be allowed to continue."

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