FRESH concerns have arisen about the NowDoc service in Letterkenny as the current unit is set to close and up to 60 staff left in limbo.
It has been claimed that staff in Letterkenny NowDoc were told on Tuesday evening via text message that they would have to vacate their current building at Oldtown as the lease is running out and is not being renewed.
It is believed the driver and doctor will relocate to a hub at St Conal’s Hospital Letterkenny, however up to 60 other staff members inlcuding nurses, administration, call handlers and cleaners have not been told what their future holds.
The unit has to be vacated in March but a new premises has not yet been identified.
This comes as concerns have previously been raised about the future of the service as it is believed changes to the out-of-hours service in the North-West could see Caredoc, who supply GPs for the NowDoc service, taking over the service in Donegal.
Under the new proposals, the NowDoc call centre and triage will no longer be based in Letterkenny and will instead operate out of Carlow. This has sparked concerns about deterioration to local out of hours healthcare due to a lack of local knowledge and long waiting times for service delivery.
The HSE has previously confirmed exploratory discussions have commenced with relevant stakeholders surrounding the most effective arrangements to provide the NowDoc service, however, they have not confirmed that CareDoc is taking over the service completely.
Councillor Michael McClafferty has spoken with staff members.
“The staff members have been left in the dark and have no idea what the future holds for them.
“To me, it seems like they are making way for CareDoc to come in and take over the service, but there has been no engagement with staff bar the text message.
“It is cruel what they are doing to these workers.
“The HSE will probably offer staff members jobs in other parts of the county or country but many staff members are not in the position to relocate.
“The service is essential to the county and the health of local people here so it must be maintained to a high standard,” said Cllr McClafferty.
NoWDOC is served via four bases in Letterkenny, Derrybeg, Mountcharles and Carndonagh.
Cllr McClafferty said there has been no correspondence about the rest of the county but he is worried that Letterkenny may set the precedent for the rest of the county.
“There is no word on the other three units but is this going to be the trend going forward?
“To my knowledge all of the units are leased so is Letterkenny going to set the precedent and the other units will be closed when their lease is up too?
“This cannot be allowed to happen,” said Cllr McClafferty.
The HSE was asked for a response but had not responded at the time of going to print.