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General Practioner Services

Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what estimate he has made of the number of individuals from the Irish Republic who are expected to use out-of-hours GP services in the (a) Western and (b) Southern health board areas; (103467)

(2) how many individuals from Northern Ireland use out-of-hours GP services in the Irish Republic.

Co-Operation and Working Together (CAWT) plan to launch the cross-border GP out-of-hours pilot projects in two phases starting in January 2007. One project covers patients living in the Republic of Ireland, along the border area of Donegal, who would have the option of using Western Urgent Care out-of-hours services. Patient flow predictions estimate a potential maximum workload gain of 1,302 Donegal patients, equating to 25 patients per week, opting to take up the offer of using Western Urgent Care's out-of-hours services.

A further pilot project will cover patients living in the South Armagh area who would have the option of using out-of-hours services in Castleblayney. Patient flow predictions for uptake of this service are a maximum workload gain of 931 Northern Ireland patients per annum (19 patients per week) using Castleblayney out-of-hours services.

Data in relation to current patterns of patient flows from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland for the purposes of accessing GP out-of-hours services is not routinely collected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much funding he expects the Irish Republic to contribute for the provision of out-of-hours GP services in the (a) Western and (b) Southern health board areas. (103468)

In the Republic of Ireland General Medical Services (GMS) patients receive free care while non-GMS/private patients pay a fee per service at the point of delivery.

(a) The costs associated with treating Republic of Ireland GMS patients through the services of Western Urgent Care will be met through a Patient Choice Development Fund established by the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland. The size of this fund will be determined by the volume of patient activity. Non-GMS/private patients will be charged a fee of €40 per consultation.

(b) For patients in defined localities within the Southern Health and Social Services Board area who would be offered the choice to use GP Out of Hours Services in the Republic of Ireland (Castleblayney), payment for this service will be met by the Southern Health and Social Services Board and will be determined by the volume of patient activity.