Patients at NI GP practice with no full time GPs are ‘anxious and distressed’

Patients of Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown are ‘distressed and anxious’ after a year without permanent medical staff.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:26 am

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly has called for a permanent solution to the lack of GPs at the practice.

The SDLP MLA met with the Chief Executive of the Southern Health Trust Shane Devlin to tell him about patients’ anxiety.

She has also met with the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Minister of Health to raise this matter.

Bannview Medical Practice, Portadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Mrs Kelly described ‘the ongoing lack of stability in the provision of GP services in Bannview Medical Centre’ as unacceptable.

She said: “As many people know this practice is unique in NI as being the only one which is directly managed by the Trust.

“Yet for over a year it hasn’t had any permanent medical staff.”

Mrs Kelly said: “Constituents, who are patients of this practice, are distressed and anxious about being able to access GP services when they need them.

“We all know the important role which a GP provides to individuals, families and communities. They know their patients well having forged good relationships which take many years to build up.

“The uncertainty around Bannview has gone on for far too long. That’s why I have taken this issue up with not only the minister and the Trust but will now raise the matter further with the Commissioning Board and GP services more generally with BMA.

“A more permanent solution has to be a priority. Questions have to be answered as to why doctors do not appear to want to work under the current arrangements.”

Dr Alan Stout, Chair of BMA Northern Ireland’s GP committee said: “This has been a very difficult, ongoing situation in Bannview.

He added: “And while there are temporary measures in place it is not an ideal situation for the many patients registered with the practice who have had an inconsistent service. It is very important that patients, particularly those with ongoing or long term health concerns, are able to develop a relationship with their primary care provider in order to ensure continuity of care.

“Unfortunately right across Northern Ireland there are pressures in terms of recruiting GPs to work in a practice and finding GPs who want to take on the running of a practice, which is a big commitment. We are hopeful that with the input of the HSCB a long-term solution can be found for Bannview and its patients.”

The Southern Health Trust said: “The Trust is continuing to work closely with the Health and Social Care Board to secure a solution as quickly as possible to the current GP shortages at the surgery.

“Positive discussions are continuing with the Health and Social Care Board to engage additional GP cover to support services in the short term and to identify a longer term solution to secure the services for the practice population at Bannview.

“Currently, triage is being carried out by locum GPs either in the Practice or by remote access. Patients who need to see a doctor will be seen face to face in the Practice when there is a GP available and at the Urgent Care Centre at CAH when there is no GP available.”

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