Northern Ireland

Bannview Medical Practice: New provider 'found'

Portadown Health Centre Image copyright © P Flannagan/CC Geograph
Image caption GPs from the other surgeries in Portadown Health Centre have been helping out with emergency cases

A new contract provider has been found to take over a doctor's practice in Portadown which was facing closure.

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill said the new provider would be in place from early March.

She said until then, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) would work to ensure patients at the Bannview Medical Practice had access to GP services.

Bannview had been at risk of closure after its last remaining doctor resigned.

In a statement, the HSCB said the board would manage the practice in the interim from 16 January until the new provider took over in early March.

"The board will be liaising closely with the new contractor and practice staff ensuring the full provision of general medical services continues to operate as normal for patients," the statement said.

'Bedrock'

"The board will be communicating to all patients over the coming days to advise them of the new appointment."

Ms O'Neill said primary care was the "bedrock" of the health and social care system.

"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," she said.

"Real progress is being made to address the challenges facing general practice.

"AskMyGP, the online and phone triage system, is currently being rolled out to a further 30 GP practices.

Image caption Portadown Health Centre is home to seven GP surgeries, including the troubled Bannview Medical Practice, which has seen its last remaining regular GP resign over her workload

"The number of GP training places will increase to 111 by 2018/19, a year ahead of the working group's recommendation. Over 100 practice based pharmacists will also soon be in place in general practice."

The Bannview Medical Practice is one of seven surgeries housed in Portadown Medical Centre.

The other six surgeries in the town had told health authorities that they could not absorb the 5,000 patients from the Bannview practice.

A doctor in one of the other surgeries in the medical centre had warned that GP services could "collapse" across Northern Ireland because of the strain and pressures facing general practice.

Dr Stuart MacDonald said doctors were having difficulty trying to provide a "safe, sustainable service" because of a shortage of GPs to cater for demand.

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