The Southern Trust has used a video in an effort to raise awareness on how to correctly use the GP Out of Hours service.
Recently statistics show that half of calls to out of hours in the area are inappropriate, and the new video is the trust’s latest attempt to reduce that figure.
Health Minister Simon Hamilton, who took over the post this week, applauded the trust for its efforts.
“Having recently reported that as many as 50 per cent of calls to the GP Out of Hours are inappropriate e.g. for blisters, cold sores and other minor ailments, this is a welcome campaign from the Southern Trust to address this misuse and raise awareness of how and when to contact them.
“We all know that the health and social care system is under an increasing demand for services and staff right across the system are doing their best to ensure that everyone gets treated as quickly and safely as possible.
“ I would encourage people think about the best service to meet their needs to help ensure that those who need it most get treated first.”
Dr Alan Evans, clinical lead for the GP Out of Hours, said it was vitally important that the service was able to treat those most in need.
““People who contact the GP Out of Hours are understandably anxious about their own health or that of a family member. But we receive many calls about non urgent conditions which adds pressure to the service and means those with real urgent needs are inconvenienced. Also, a number of people still drop in to a base without an appointment and when they do this they can face long delays, as they are treated in the order they first contact the service.
“We want to treat all patients as safely and quickly as possible so hope this video explains how the service works, helping to ensure that the most urgent cases are given priority and everyone receives the right treatment for their needs.”
Dr Evans continues,“A clinician will phone the patient back to make an assessment. About 50% of patients receive telephone advice or may need a prescription but do not need to attend a centre.
“A minority of housebound patients will receive a home visit and others may be advised to attend a more appropriate service like the Minor Injuries Unit, Emergency Department or the Emergency Dental service.
“If you do need a face to face consultation, an appointment is arranged with a GP or Advanced Nurse Practitioner at your nearest available base.”
You can view the video on our website.