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GP secured for Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown

Northern Ireland surgery with 5,200 patients to remain open

A GP contractor has been secured for Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown.

The news was confirmed on Thursday evening by the Health and Social Care Board.

Staffing issues at the practice are believed to have been flagged up two years ago, with the surgery reaching crisis point last August when the second of its three GPs left, leaving just one doctor to look after 5,200 patients.

The remaining doctor resigned in December and will finish on January 16.

A spokesperson for the board said: "The Health and Social Care Board can confirm that a new GP contractor has been secured for Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown commencing early March 2017.  The Board will manage the practice during the interim period from 16 January 2017.

"The Board will be liaising closely with the new Contractor and practice staff ensuring the full provision of general medical services continues to operate as normal for patients.

"The Board will be communicating to all patients over the coming days to advise them of the new appointment.”

David Simpson MP and Sydney Anderson MLA welcomed the news.

Mr Simpson said: "I welcome this new development this evening. It will certainly help alleviate any concerns many in the community had about health provision in Portadown.  

"Everyone has the right to easy access to GP services. I will always continue to strive to protect and improve this for everyone throughout Upper Bann, along with my DUP colleagues."

Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson said: "I would hope that this development will clear the uncertainty that has existed and would also hope that this service will provide much needed first class provision for the practice patients.

"It is now imperative that the long term security of GP Provision at Bannview and in Portadown Health Centre is established."

The crisis was highlighted recently when a bereaved family hit out at the GP shortages after they were left in limbo for days unable to bury a beloved grandfather. Vincent McGibbon died on New Year's Eve, but a death certificate could not be issued until late on January 3 by under-pressure staff.

Other GP practices in the town held an emergency meeting two weeks ago to discuss the possible closure of the practice amid fears that their already overstretched surgeries would be asked to take on Bannview's patients.

With Portadown practices already working to capacity, all six applied for a "temporary list closure" to prevent their surgeries being swamped.

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