The Southern Health and Social Care Trust has taken over the GP contract at Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown, in what is a ‘first’ for Northern Ireland.
The announcement was made yesterday (Thursday) to staff by the Health and Social Care Board and a notice placed in the practice.
The take-over will take place with immediate effect and will remain in place until a permanent solution is found.
The practice, which has 5,200 patients, has been in crisis since its final GP resigned a week ago and doctors in the other six practices within Portadown Health centre applied to close their lists.
A spokesperson for the board said, “The board welcomes this latest development and wishes to reassure each and every patient that the board will continue to work closely with the trust and staff at the practice to ensure that safe and high quality clinical GP services continue to be provided at the practice.
“The board would like to assure patients that the locum GPs, currently providing services at the practice, are highly experienced GPs and the board and trust will ensure every effort is made is providing consistency in the continuity of care at this time until regular GPs are recruited.”
She added, “The practice has returned to its normal service to all patients registered with the practice and patients are advised to contact the practice in the normal way. The service is no longer running in an emergency only capacity.
“The board will now be writing to all patients to advise them of the new contractor and asks patients to support the practice and trust at this time.
“The board would also like to pay tribute and commend the efforts of all staff within the practice in providing safe services to their patients during this period of transition.”
Upper Bann MP David Simpson described it as “superb news for the patients of the practice as well as the staff”.
He said, “This is a new initiative for the board and I believe this is the first time it has happened in Northern Ireland.
“The board will continue their search for a permanent solution, but I am delighted that Bannview is now secure for the foreseeable future.”
Just this week, a number of staff within the health centre said staff and patients “needed to get back to normal and generate a positive environment” after a turbulent few weeks.
However, a protest organised by Bannview patient Tony Hendron will go ahead this morning to register anger that the health board did not act sooner and that the situation was allowed to get to the point where “four good doctors were lost”.