THE threatened closure of Waringstown surgery could be a huge blow to the village, according to a local MLA.
Jo-Anne Dobson said not only would the closure be a backward step, but it could have a knock on effect on the village pharmacy.
Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said: “I have written directly to the Health Minister and the Director of Integrated Care at the Health Board regarding the future of the surgery service in the village.
“I had previously contacted the Health and Social Care Board on behalf of constituents who had raised concerns with my office that the branch surgery had been closed on several occasions.
“I was taken aback to read in last week’s ‘MAIL’ that the Health Board are considering closing it down.”
She added: “I am deeply concerned by this development and the potential negative impact which withdrawal of the surgery service could have on the people of Waringstown. Our rural villages are the life-blood of our communities and the removal of services would be a backward step, leaving people with long and difficult journeys to travel to receive healthcare.
“People will also be concerned that a potential drop in business from the surgery to the village pharmacy at the chemist may also put this service in jeopardy.
“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. I truly hope that we do not because the people of Waringstown need and deserve a local GP Surgery.
“In my letter to the Health and Social Care Board I have asked them to clarify that the closure of the branch surgery would not mean the withdrawal of a dedicated GP service in Waringstown, but rather its relocation to new facilities which would be sourced within the village in a setting which would meet modern health and safety requirements.
“I have also urged the Board to take steps to ensure that local people will be fully consulted prior to any decision being taken.”
The practice manager was contacted by the ‘MAIL’ with regard to a number of issues surrounding the Waringstown surgery.
The practice manager responded: “The surgery has raised concerns with the Health and Social Care Board with regard to the potential failure of the branch surgery premises in Waringstown to meet statutory requirements.
“An assessment of the premises has been requested.
“We cannot comment further at this time. However, we would like to take this opportunity to advise our patients that we are continuing to offer our normal service and that the surgery team remain committed to providing safe, modern, accessible and quality care to all of our patients.”
In our report on this issue last week we mistakenly referred to the Health and Social Care Board as the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which is an entirely different body. We apologise for the error.