Residents are fuming at surgery closure

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson with Waringstown man Lenny Deans, who has been a patient with the village surgery for 25 years. INLM3612-302con
Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson with Waringstown man Lenny Deans, who has been a patient with the village surgery for 25 years. INLM3612-302con

A LONG-TIME patient at Waringstown surgery has voiced major concerns about the closure of the facility at the village Orange Hall.

Lesley Deans (55), a patient at the surgery for the past 25 years, said the closure would have major implications for many people in the village.

“I knew it was on the cards but I didn’t think it would go like this,” said Mr Deans, who lives at Meadowvale.

Mr Deans had an accident about eight years ago in which he fell 40 foot off a roof. He has serious mobility problems and is constantly on painkillers.

He said: “As far as travelling to Donaghcloney is concerned I’m okay most of the time, but sometimes I can’t drive because of the pain. There’s older people in the village who don’t drive at all and I don’t know how they’re going to cope.

“All the talk in church on Sunday was that they’re going to be at a complete loss.”

He added: “Because of the nature of my illness sitting for long periods of time gives me problems. I’m worried about long waits in Donaghcloney.”

He suggested the Waringstown surgery could have got a grant to improve the building instead of closing it.

Mr Deans was concerned at the section of the letter he received from the Health and Social Care Board which suggested that villagers who are not happy with the service could go elsewhere. He said the board should remember that the service is paid for by tax payers money and they have a duty of care to their patients.

“It looks like they are mistaking the service with a veterinary practice,” he said. “This is the treatment of local people we are talking about here.”

MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said, “I have been approached by so many Waringstown residents who are incensed that their surgery has been closed.

“Villagers have merely been informed of a temporary closure with no information or timescale for future provision within the village. Waringstown residents deserve a reinstated modern surgery which is fully equipped and staffed to meet the needs of the local community.

“The facilities are a vital lifeline for many including the elderly and vulnerable and many are quite rightly concerned about the impact of the increased pressure on Donaghcloney surgery.

DUP members say they have also been inundated with complaints. In a joint statement the party said: “It has totally shattered the community spirit of the village and people are quite rightly extremely frustrated at this decision.We will be holding meetings in this regard and working to establish other ways and means of delivering such a service and working with Translink on transport provision.”

Dr Paul Lennon commented: “A few patients have raised queries about arrangements for attending Donaghcloney Surgery. The majority of patients from the Waringstown area have historically accessed services in both our main surgery in Donaghcloney and our branch surgery in Waringstown.

“We can assure patients our premises in Donaghcloney has the capacity to deal with the transfer of services from Waringstown.”

Donacloney Practice continues to offer patients choice of attending open surgeries, with no appointment required, from 9am to 10 am and 11am to 12noon Monday to Friday, or booking appointments from 3.30pm to 5.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. The Practice Nurse is available, with no appointment required, from 9am to 10.30am Monday to Friday and by appointment only on Monday between 11.30am to 12.30pm and 4pm to 6pm.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board acknowledged that it had been contacted by a small number of patients querying the arrangements at Donaghcloney surgery following the temporary closure of Waringstown Branch Surgery – but stressed this was a necessary measure in the best interest of patients.

The spokesperson said the next step is to work with doctors and practice staff to develop arrangements for future provision of services and once these have been developed, these would be shared widely with patients and their representatives.