Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), a partnership of Health Boards and Trusts in the border region, is currently developing two pilot areas along the border where patients would be given the choice of accessing closer cross-border services or using the existing service in his/her own jurisdiction. A pilot cross-border GP Out Of Hours service was launched in January 2007 which allows patients in the Republic of Ireland (Donegal) access to a GP Out Of Hours centre in Northern Ireland (Derry). A second pilot site which allowed patients from South Armagh to be treated in North Monaghan was launched in November 2007. This service recognises the unique circumstances that exist in the Irish border region, where 70,000 patients who may need access to primary care outside normal hours would be better served in the other jurisdiction. It is supported by health professionals, politicians and border communities. It is well-resourced and is built on a platform of collaborative primary care expertise developed under the auspices of CAWT over a 10 year period.
The Centre was appointed to evaluate the process, impact and outcomes of the CAWT Cross Border GP Out-Of-Hours pilot project. Underpinning this evaluation is an understanding of the importance of the cross-border GP Out-of-Hours service as a concrete example of practical cross-border co-operation in action.
The ultimate requirements of the independent evaluation are to produce a detailed report on the:
- Process adopted, lessons learned and outcomes reached in the first phase of the project (.ie. analysis and resolution to cross border obstacles).
- Implementation of the pilot project taking consideration of awareness and support for the service among patients and health professionals, patient uptake, cost benefit analyses, testing of cross border protocols, comparative analysis of attitudes/experiences of patients and Out of Hours staff to service.
- Recommendations for potential roll out of the GP Out-Of-Hours service along entire border region.