‘Shock’ as lifeline for troubled Co Armagh medical practice is withdrawn

Patients in Portadown are in shock after a lifeline to their troubled medical practice was withdrawn.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:50 pm

Bannview Medical Practice has been in difficulties for more than four years with issues over a lack of permanent GPs.

The 5000 patients have been either treated by locum doctors or had to use an emergency telephone triage system operated by the Southern Health Trust which manages the practice.

Last week hopes were high that another medical practice, Riverside, also based at Portadown Health Centre would be taking over.

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 17th January 2017 Bannview Medical Practice, Bannview Medical Practice, Portadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye

However a statement from the Health and Social Care Board on Friday revealed that negotiations with Riverside, on proposals that it would take on a caretaker role, had collapsed.

SDLP Cllr Eamon McNeill said: “I was so disappointed to learn that the Riverside Practise had reversed their decision in taking over the Bannview Practice.

“Realistically this was going to be a very difficult situation for them to manage two Practices.

“I contacted the Trust Director at the beginning of last week after receiving calls from patients raising their concerns and worries again but I got no definitive answer to my query.

“This crisis going back as far as 2017 cannot be allowed to continue.

“It’s so worrying and disappointing that we are back to square one. Myself and Dolores Kelly MLA will be liaising with the Southern Trust and all health officials demanding that the care of the 5000 plus patients is the top priority with all who are responsible for providing a 21st century health service in this Bannview Practice.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “I have been in discussions with a GP practice which had almost completed contact negotiations with the Commissioning Board and am very disappointed to learn that those negotiations have failed. This afternoon (Friday April 16) I met with senior representatives to express my deep concern and ask what plans they have for the future of Bannview practice.

Patients of Bannview GP Practice will be very disappointed to learn that recent negotiations have fallen through.

“I made it very clear to the Commissioning Board that every effort must be made to find an alternative provider, dispersal is not an option.

“The difficulties which patients experience in trying to access a GP in Bannview remains one of the largest issues in my constituency office.

“Patients’ interests must be at the centre of negotiations and I urge all parties to reach an early, successful conclusion.’”

In a statement issued by the Health and Social Care Board, it was revealed a practice, which had been in negotiations to take over as a caretaker, has withdrawn.

A spokesperson said: “We would like to reassure patients of Bannview Practice that the practice currently remains open and patients should continue to contact the practice as normal for their ongoing care, including any scheduled appointment to receive their Covid-19 vaccination.

“We remain optimistic that we will secure a new contract holder for Bannview Practice although we are disappointed that the practice we have been in caretaker negotiations with has decided to withdraw.

“We would ask patients and local political representatives to remain patient as we continue to work through this process.”

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