Worry as practice closes due to ‘severe GP shortage’

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Concerns have been expressed over the future of one of the practices in Portadown Health Centre, which appears to have closed due to a “severe shortage of GPs”.

A recorded telephone message at the Bannview practice is informing patients that it is closed for medical problems that are not emergencies.

The message says that in cases which cannot wait, the Health Board advises patients to contact one of the centre’s other GP practices, with the exception of Riverside.

A Health and Social Care Board spokesperson confirmed that due to unforeseen circumstances, Bannview Medical Practice “is under significant pressure due to the current GP contractor being unavailable”.

She said, “The practice will be providing emergency GP appointments only during this time. A notice for patients has been displayed in the surgery by the practice informing patients of this change in circumstances.

“The board will be continuing to work with Bannview Medical Practice to put in place a longer term solution in relation to the delivery of GP services.

“The board will continue to work with and support the practice over the coming weeks in ensuring that all patients are notified of developments in this matter at the earliest opportunity.”

The spokesperson added, “The board and practice apologise to all patients for this short term inconvenience and will continue to work closely together over the coming days to ensure normal cover and the full provision of general medical services resumes as soon as possible. The board asks patients to continue to support the practice at this time.”

Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said, “I am incredibly concerned for the safety and health of 5,000 individuals who were registered to the Bannview GP Practice.

“The Health Board has advised that anyone who needs immediate necessary treatment will be asked to approach one of the other six practices - this in itself will create longer waiting times and place an unsustainable burden on other GPs.

“It will mean that each practice will have to absorb on average 800 individuals who are registered to Bannview. It creates pressure on the infrastructure, stress on GPs, nurses and non-clinical staff and it will have a direct effect on all patients.”

He added, “I call on the Minister for Health to take direct action to address this dire shortfall in GPs and the chronic underinvestment in GP services in Portadown.”