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General Practitioners

Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department allocated to Western Urgent Care for out-of-hours service provision in each of the last five years. (135249)

Following the introduction of the new GMS contract, responsibility for the commissioning of out-of-hours services was transferred to WHSSB on 1 January 2005. Since that date the WHSSB has allocated the following levels of funding to Western Urgent Care:

Period covered

Amount (£ million)

1 January 2005 to 31 March 2005

1.3

1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006

5.3

1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007

5.3

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures his Department has in place to ensure that the proposed five per cent. reduction in the Western Urgent Care budget for the financial year 2007-08 will not reduce the level of patient care provided to patients living in the Derry, Strabane and Limavady areas. (135250)

There has been no reduction in the actual budget for the provision of out-of-hours (OOH) care, either for Western Urgent Care specifically, or in Northern Ireland as a whole, nor is such a reduction planned. When the Health and Social Services Boards took over responsibility for the delivery of OOHs from GPs in 2005 following the introduction of the new contract for GPs, the Department agreed to provide bridging finance for a period of three years to assist the boards with the start-up costs of the new service. It was agreed with the Health and Social Services Boards at the time that this bridging finance would decrease in the third year (2007-08) and cease from 1 April 2008. The budget for the service is otherwise unaffected.