Surgery steps up bid for bigger premises

Jo-Ann Dobson with David Burke.
Jo-Ann Dobson with David Burke.
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A GP’s surgery in Lurgan say they are in need of a major upgrade to meet patients’ needs.

An ideal scenario for High Street surgery would be to move to a new purpose-built complex. To this end they’ve set up a petition for patients to fill in declaring their support for the practice’s proposal and rationale.

GP Dr David Burke said at the three-storey High Street surgery, which has 9,500 patients, it was like musical chairs as staff had to swap rooms to accommodate patients and surgeries.

He said: “There’s a significant need for investment in primary care infrastructure. We need a 21st century premises.

“We are faced with an expanding and ageing population with expanding and more complex health problems.”

Dr Burke said the pressures on GPs were increasing. “There’s been a shift from secondary to primary care which is in so many regards under-resourced and we’re having to take up the slack,” he commented.

“Patients are being discharged from hospitals far sooner which is putting more pressure on GPs. The number of students with GP training is dwindling because of the demand being placed on GPs.”

He continued: “Ten years ago we started a process of engagement.

“We started looking at a large community care centre with all GPs in the Lurgan area. It was initially proposed for the Lurgan Hospital site.

“Since then we’ve engaged with private developers but haven’t unfortunately found the right solution for us.

“In the interim period we have looked at getting some portacabins in. The funding for a community care centre won’t be available until 2015/16.

“No one is saying a hub is a perfect solution but it’s the best way to respond to future needs of patients.

“Ultimately people’s first port of call is their GP.

“If GPs have the facilities that allow them to diagnose early it is saving the health service in the long term.”

With the surgery constrained both physically and financially Dr Burke has sought the help of Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson.

The MLA said: “Banbridge and Portadown are streets ahead of Lurgan in terms of GP services.

“Even with DHSSPS funding for a health hub it still leaves far too big a gap with funds to come from surgery.

“I’m looking into European funding and I’ll be taking these petitions to Stormont to bring to the attention of the Health Minister.”

The ‘MAIL’ will carry full details of the petition in next week’s paper.

PETITION

I can confirm that I am a patient in High Street Surgery, Lurgan.

I can confirm that I fully support the Practice’s proposal and rationale for investment support from the DHSSPS in Northern Ireland for the development of a new Health Care Centre for the patients and public in Lurgan.

The existing premises are, in my opinion, currently full to capacity with all the rooms in full use. This is restricting the expansion of any future community and primary care services.

In addition, all the services located at the existing facilities are currently operating from inadequate and below standard accommodation.

New and improved premises will improve the quality of the primary care estate and will enable services to be delivered from efficient, high quality, purpose built accommodation.

The provision of a modern facility in which to relocate the existing services is considered to be an important part of the continued improvements being made to primary care services across Northern Ireland and the Southern Trust.

I look forward to hearing of the progress surrounding the support from the DHSSPS to allow the practice to develop new accommodation and continue to deliver a high quality service to the patients in Lurgan in the near future.