GPs meet minister on health plans

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HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots met with GPs from the High Street and Moore’s Lane surgeries last week to discuss innovative plans for the Lurgan area.

The Minister heard from local doctors about a proposed development scheme for a new joint surgery in Lurgan, which is being progressed by a third party developer.

The GPs highlighted issues at their surgeries stressing a new facility would greatly enhance provision in the town.

Upper Bann DUP MLA Stephen Moutray welcomed the opportunity to discuss plans for GP provision in the area with Mr Poots.

Mr Moutray said: “This was a very welcome opportunity to meet with the Health Minister and local GPs in order to discuss possibilities around a new health and care centre in Lurgan.

“Already in Upper Bann we have seen tremendous improvements made to health care provision such as the excellent new health Centre in Portadown and the Minister also recently made the much welcomed announcement of a new £16 million Health Centre for Banbridge. Alongside of those developments we have seen significant works carried out in Craigavon Area Hospital and the current work being undertaken at Lurgan Hospital.

“All of these are very welcome and will each make a huge contribution to placing this part of the province right at the forefront of health provision across Northern Ireland.”

He added: “This latest meeting was an opportunity to discuss ways to further enhance the delivery of health care in Lurgan. GPs from High Street Surgery and Moore’s Lane surgery took the opportunity to highlight the fact that their current premises are prohibitive in terms of size and access and therefore it is felt there is a need to address this issue and provide a more holistic health care approach on a new site within Lurgan. It was good to have the Minister here to see first-hand those issues for himself.

“It was good to be able to engage with the Health Minister, along with local GPs to explore avenues that could add to the provision across the Lurgan area. Along with colleagues I shall continue to work to that end.”

Speaking after the meeting Mr Poots said: “I have listened to a number of concerns raised by GPs.

“Whilst the HSC Board will be considering any requests for increased funding very carefully, I am looking at alternative means of funding as a way of supplementing my budget to enable me to progress much needed capital infrastructure projects across Northern Ireland.

“As I have previously stated, it is a key aim of my department to provide a full range of health and social care services outside the acute sector, in the community closer to where people live or work.

“I am keen to develop integrated services in the community in line with the vision set out in ‘Transforming Your Care’. Patients should have access to services near their homes without having to attend hospital except where absolutely necessary.

“I will continue to work closely with the practices in the Lurgan area to seek a way forward, in addressing the community’s Health and Social Care needs.”

The Minister praised the staff he met during his visit, saying: “In speaking with the doctors and other staff at these practices, I have been extremely impressed by their foresight and vision for the future development of services and better management of patients. It is obvious that these are very busy centres and their staff provide a highly effective service for the communities they serve.”

The meeting also attended by SDLP Deputy Leader Dolores Kelly.