THERE was an angry reaction as Waringstown surgery closed on Friday with patients now having to travel to Donaghcloney for treatment.
The Health and Social Care Board have stressed the closure is temporary, adding that the decision was made in the interests of health and safety.
The HSC board say the decision was taken because the Waringstown premises no longer offer patients suitably modern facilities for their treatment and care.
For the foreseeable future, its services, provided by Doctors Paul Lennon and Ian Hunter, will transfer to their main practice premises at 60A Main Street, Donaghcloney.
The board say the branch surgery premises have been assessed as being in potential breach of modern requirements relating to health and safety, fire safety and its ability to offer access to disabled people.
But Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson claimed the temporary closure was a risk to the health and safety of Waringstown residents.
Mrs Dobson said: “I find it incredible that a facility whose sole purpose is to uphold the health of the people of Waringstown is being closed down following health and safety concerns.
“I will be writing again to the Minister of Health Edwin Poots on behalf of Waringstown residents to ask what provision he and the Health and Social Care Board intend to put in place following this most recent announcement of a temporary closure.”
Mrs Dobson also criticised the lack of notice given by the Board.
She added: “The GP Surgery is as much an integral part of village life in Waringstown as the churches, post office, primary school and shops. For too long the village has been without a dedicated community centre and indeed has waited for over thirty years to get a statutory nursery school, a battle which many of us have fought so hard for.
“It now looks like we could have a battle on our hands to retain our GP surgery.”
Alderman Stephen Moutray MLA, Alderman Sydney Anderson MLA and David Simpson MP said: “This is a blow to the people of Waringstown and the surrounding area. As elected representatives for the area we are extremely disappointed at the loss of such a vital service within the village of Waringstown and will most certainly be lobbying for other premises to be acquired.
“We have in the first instance met with the Health and Safety Trust in this regard and will be seeking a meeting with the doctors concerned and the Health and Social Care Trust to relay the many complaints and concerns we have received regarding this loss of service.”
“Additionally we believe in the interim consideration should be given to additional transport to and from the Donaghcloney surgery. At present there is one bus per hour running from Waringstown to Donaghcloney. This is totally unacceptable and I will be calling on further provision to be made available.”
The Board said it made the decision to close the branch surgery following consultation with the doctors and practice staff.
Patients who have been given appointments at Waringstown on dates after August 24 will have these automatically transferred to the main practice at Donaghcloney. However, any patient who remains concerned in any way about an appointment should telephone the practice staff on 3888 1225.
A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said this was a necessary measure in the best interest of patients.
“Safe, modern and accessible services remain fully available to all patients from the main practice in Donaghcloney,” said the spokesperson.
“The next step is to devise appropriate arrangements for the longer term, and we will be actively working with the doctors and their practice staff to develop these,” he added.
The spokesperson said that once relevant arrangements for the future had been developed, these would be shared widely with patients and their representatives.
Text us your views on the surgery’s closure to 84555, starting your message with LMCOMMENT.