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Thousands of out-of-hours doctor shifts unfilled

From BBC - November 13, 2017

Thousands of GP evening and weekend shifts are going unfilled in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, the BBC has learnt.

Western Urgent Care, which provides the GP out-of-hours service in the western area, could not cover 3,800 shifts during the last three years.

The information was obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by BBC Radio Foyle.

Dr Tom Black of the BMA, said the situation is "not good for patients".

The chair of BMA's Northern Ireland general practitioners committee said unfilled shifts are symptomatic of wider pressures on the service.

"When you do not fund the service and let the workload build up, and fail to train a workforce, you end up with a lot of empty shifts, which is not good for patients," he said.

Dr Black said the lack of shift cover is currently being investigated by the Regulations and Quality Improvement Authority.

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