Fears for future of Brownlow Clinic as two GPS call it quits

Brownlow Health Centre.
Brownlow Health Centre.

MLAs have called for urgent talks with the Health Board as fears grow for the future of a practice at Brownlow Health Centre following the decision by two doctors to end their contracts.

Dr Matthew McFadden and Dr Donna Maree York have notified the Health and Social Care Board that they will be ending their contracts on July 31 this year.

Last year Dr Denise Hunter retired from the practice which was known as The Hunter Family Practice and also Brownlow Medical Practice and is based in the Legahory Centre at Craigavon.

A spokesperson for Brownlow Medical Practice said, “After much consideration the GPs have resigned, giving the required six months notice to the Health and Social Care Board. In the interim GPs and Practice Staff remain dedicated to our patients, and to the provision of a full range of General Medical Services. We would like to assure all patients that the Board are exploring options to ensure ongoing provision of services. We have been informed that no decision has been made to close the Practice. Patients with any queries or concerns have been advised to contact the HSC Board directly.”

The Board advised patients that they should continue to attend the surgery as normal.

“The Health and Social Care Board will now carefully consider options for the future provision of General Medical Services for patients of the practice. The Board will put arrangements in place from 1 August 2015, to ensure that patients currently registered with the practice continue to have access to General Medical Services through a GP Practice.”

The Board pointed out that Brownlow Medical Practice is one of a number of GP Practices located at the Brownlow Health Centre. Other GP Practices within the centre will continue as normal. “The Board is not aware of any other changes to General Medical Services provision in the Lurgan, Portadown or Craigavon area at this time.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said she would be raising the matter with the Board and, following a report by the British Medical Association on GP services, she would be asking the Assembly to discuss the state of the service.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said Mrs Kelly who said she feared for the future of GP services given the massive funding shortfall and the lack of GPs entering the service.

Mrs Kelly said a top GP had said the situation in Brownlow is the first of many and issued a ‘dire warning’ that it would have a knock on effect on the rest of the health service.

Meanwhile DUP MP David Simpson said he remains committed to ensuring that the Brownlow area is not left without a vital GP service and plans to meet with the Board.

“I understand for personal reasons the doctors have decided to cease trading and I want to commend them for their excellent service to the Brownlow area for many, many years. This GP surgery was a family-run surgery with a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere and to that end we owe a great debt to the doctors and all those who have worked in the practice. However, given that this very vast area will now potentially be without a service we need the Health and Social Care Board to intervene and ensure that new provision is achieved.”