Following public criticism of the “dismal situation” at Portadown Health Centre, a new contract provider has been announced for the under threat GP practice there.
The announcement was made by Health Minister Michelle O’Neill yesterday evening ahead of a protest that was due to take place today over the uncertain future of Bannview Practice, based in the health centre.
The crisis at Bannview had been flagged around two years ago with GPs there stating their workloads were unmanageable.
One by one they left the practice and with the last GP - Dr Heenan - due to leave next Friday, closure looked imminent.
Dr Heenan told the Portadown Times if each of the other practices in the health centre were forced to take on extra patients they would “one by one collapse”.
Tony Hendron, a patient at Bannview Medical Practice who has called off a protest due to take place today, said it was great news for all Bannview patients and the whole of Portadown Health Centre.
He added: “I, and most patients, would hope that if at all possible, Dr Shauna Heenan could be included in the line up of doctors in the new practice.
“The health board and health minister must now try to think outside the box on ways to encourage medical students to take the GP service route.”
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said last night a new contract provider will be in place from early March.
“Until then, the HSCB will continue to ensure that patients of the Bannview Practice have access to GP services,” she said.
The Minister said: “I made it clear in ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’ that primary care is the bedrock of our health and social care system and I gave a commitment to significantly invest in primary care. I also recently accepted the recommendations of the working group that was established to review GP- led care services here.”
Dr Grainne Doran, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland, said there was no avoiding the fact the general practice landscape in the Province is “in turmoil”.
Before the announcement was made Dr Doran said: “We only need to reflect on the dismal situation unfolding in Portadown to get an understanding of the pressures facing the GP profession and the difficulties facing patients.
“And the sad reality is that this is not an isolated incident – pressures are being felt by GP practices right across Northern Ireland.”