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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Connor Lynch

Belfast Trust issues statement on reduced GP out of hours service

The Belfast Trust has issued a statement on the GP out of hours service in the city.

This week it was revealed that the out of hours service in the South and East Belfast, based at Knockbreda Health Centre, will be running a significantly reduced service for the remainder of the summer months.

It comes after assurances from the trust that the service would not be reduced or removed.

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson expressed his disappointment at the decision, saying it will heap further pressures onto already struggling Emergency Departments.

Some patients unable to use the out of hours service have said they experienced waits of over 10 hours when they had to got to A&E instead.

The reduced service will see the South and East Service operate from 6pm to midnight, Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on weekends and bank holidays. Outside those hours, patients will have to use the Crumlin Road facility.

Now the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has commented on the move, saying it was made due to staffing pressures.

A spokesperson said: "Our GP out of hours service, alongside those of other trusts, continues to experience significant pressure and in recent weeks has experienced gaps in the GP rota which we have been unable to fill.

"It remains our first priority to provide a safe, seamless and accessible service for every member of the public who requires it.

"In recent weeks, we have established discussions with GP colleagues to identify solutions to the service. These discussions have been productive and we have agreed the Crumlin Road and Knockbreda services will be merged during times of limited cover to ensure continuity of service for patients.

"Patients requiring the GP out of hours service should continue to access it by calling 028 9074 4447 (North and West Belfast) or 028 9079 6220 (South and East Belfast)."

After the decision was made, East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said he would be engaging with the trust on the matter, adding that he was told in March there would be no reduction of the service.

"Disappointed to receive notice from the trust that they intend to reduce their South-East out of hours GP Service throughout the month of July and August," he explained.

"I was assured in March of this year, that there were no plans by the trust to reduce or remove the service from Forster Green. Citing GP pressures, SE patients will have to travel to Crumlin Road Out of Hours service that is usually operational for North/West Belfast patients during the hours outlined below.

"I am due to meet with the trust shortly and will be raising a number of concerns, including from those who have taken the time to write to me on this issue. There continues to be extreme pressures on the A&E service at the Ulster Hospital. I will keep you updated as this progresses, but feel free to get in touch with me if you wish to raise your points."

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