The Out of Hours service at Craigavon Hospital has been branded “a complete joke” after a couple were told it would be eight hours before someone could call them back about their sick son.
Alan Carson, a member of the DUP, and wife Victoria phoned the service around 7pm on Sunday evening, to seek advice on their son Rhys.
According to his parents, the young boy had a very high temperature, which was still rising, and his throat was “almost closed”.
Faced with the wait, the couple instead had their call transferred to Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn and received a call back in five minutes.
The schoolboy was seen by a doctor there who said his tonsils were “very swollen” but not infected, and that he should be monitored closely.
Writing on Facebook, Victoria said the couple have to be very cautious as swollen tonsils are the first symptoms of irritable hip - a condition which Rhys is prone to and leaves him unable to stand or walk.
The couple said they were angry at the wait, and criticised the system.
Said Victoria, “I thought the whole idea of Out of Hours was to take pressure off A & E with cases like this - which can’t wait to see a doctor on Monday morning but are not emergency cases, - so that A & E can deal with emergencies.”
A spokesperson for the Southern Health Trust said, “The GP Out of Hours aims to treat everyone as quickly and safely as possible. During times when the service is particularly busy, patients with less urgent conditions may have to wait longer. We always advise patients to phone us back during this time if their condition deteriorates, go to the Emergency Department or phone 999.
“We can arrange base appointments at any available centre in the southern area and we also work closely with other trusts to give patients the option to have their appointment in a neighbouring area if they wish to do so.”