Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Cavan TD Pauline Tully.

Minister to engage in NEDOC-HSE dispute

Pauline Tully TD says the HSE did not engage with NEDOC on funding issues.

The Health Minister has been asked to intervene after the local doctor-on-call service said it would have to cut its services.

NEDOC last week said a lack of funding and a shortage of doctors meant it would be forced to only offer telephone consultations from 10.30pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends.

In a statement to the Celt, the organisation said “acute doctor shortages and underfunding of the service by the HSE” are to blame for the changes.

“The HSE has been notified of issues facing NEDOC for overnight sessions for some years and while some financial supports were forthcoming they were insufficient to cover the costs incurred in sourcing doctors to work these overnight shifts.”

The changes are to come into effect from August.

The HSE in recent days said it had been in contact with NEDOC’s board with a view to holding discussions and said it was hopeful “this offer will be taken up as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: HSE hopes to discuss NEDOC cuts

The issue was raised with the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil this afternoon.

Cavan Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully said the HSE has “been aware of these issues for some years”.

“They have provided some funding but it isn’t sufficient to address the issues. NEDOC has tried to engage with the HSE to try and find a resolution to continue to provide this vital service but the HSE has refused to engage.”

She called on the Tánaiste to ask the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to intervene to protect the future of the doc-on-call service.

The Tánaiste, himself a GP, said he had worked with NEDOC in its Navan and Drogheda centres in the past.

“I think, as much as possible, these services should operate 24/7 for reasons that we’ll all understand.

“This is principally a funding issue but the availability of doctors is an issue too. We have asked the Minister for Health to engage with the HSE to see if it can be resolved.”