GP protest slams ‘sticking plaster’ solution

Part of the crowd which attended a rally at Pordadown Health Centre on Friday. INPT04-200.
Part of the crowd which attended a rally at Pordadown Health Centre on Friday. INPT04-200.

Supporters attending a protest in Portadown were told that the temporary solutions which had been put in place to save a GP practice were simply a “sticking plaster”.

The protest on Friday, in support of Bannview Medical Practice, was organised by patient Tony Hendron.

He slammed the Health and Social Care Board’s slowness to act on the crisis and said four good doctors had been lost.

The practice, based in Portadown Health Centre, lost its final GP a week ago.

A GP contractor who was set to take over pulled out on Monday, prompting fears over the future for patients.

On Thursday it was announced that the Southern Health and Social Care Trust had taken over with immediate effect – the first such arrangement in the Province.

It said the practice had returned to normal service and was no longer running in an emergency only capacity.

However at the protest, attended by patients as well as political and union representatives, the board was criticised for acting on the problem after it arose rather than before.

Dolores Kelly of the SDLP said there were going to be more cuts and that “our work isn’t yet done”.

DUP MLA Sydney Anderson said that, unless there was change, “what is happening here can happen right across the Province”.

Jo-Anne Dobson MLA of the UUP echoed this view.

She said: “We know there is a crisis but this is a sticking plaster solution. People power has spoken today.”

UKIP’s David Jones added: “There are 20 other practices throughout Northern Ireland who are coming to the point where Bannview has found itself. The outgoing Assembly has shown a lack of interest and the department has put in insufficient funds.”

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said as a father and grandfather he feared for his family’s health and described what was happening as “a disgrace”.

The NI Labour Party was also represented, with Matt Beeching warning that a “crisis of diabolical proportions” was looming.

He said: “The board and the health minister were warned about Bannview two years ago. Now they are fire-fighting. The people of Portadown deserve and need better than this.”

There was a round of applause for Dr Shauna Heanen, Bannview’s final GP. She had revealed before Christmas she was leaving because of work pressures.