Deputy McConalogue has expressed grave concern about a new proposal by GPs to centralise the NowDoc overnight services in Letterkenny, resulting in the removal of the overnight shift in Carndonagh and Derrybeg.
The proposal was confirmed to Deputy McConalogue by the Minister for Health James Reilly and the CEO of the HSE Cathal Magee at the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children last week.
“This is an absolutely essential service and any attempts to dilute it would pose a direct risk to patients,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“This latest proposal would see the so called ‘red eye’ shift, which runs from 11pm to 8am, removed from Carndonagh and Derrybeg in place of a centralised service in Letterkenny. Such a cut would be completely unacceptable and must be resisted by the HSE and the Minister for Health James Reilly.
“The very essence of NowDoc is that it provides an emergency GP service to patients in need, particularly those in remote areas who do not have direct access to a doctors surgery or a hospital themselves. Removing the overnight service for people who live so far from Letterkenny would be irresponsible.
He said families and older people feel comforted by the fact that such a service is always available to them nearby, day or night.
“If they or a loved one fall sick in the middle of the night and need a doctor, they cannot be expected to travel all the way to Letterkenny for treatment. It is simply not feasible and it poses unnecessary risks,” he added.
The HSE has set up a review group to look at the NowDoc service and come forward with a proposal by the end of the month.
Deputy McConalogue said he was urging senior HSE officials and the Health Minister to negotiate with GPs to ensure that they are in a position to retain the current NowDoc service in Co Donegal.
“People need a quality out of hours GP service in this county. It must be protected,” he said.