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Health expert living in Northern Ireland forced to travel to Australia to see doctor

A health expert living in Co Armagh has told how he had to go back to Australia to get to see a doctor.

Jason Calvert (29) is originally from Melbourne and suffers from a rare lung condition and has been trying to get registered with a Portadown surgery for the past year.

Speaking to the Irish News he said: "I'm someone who can navigate the healthcare system and escalate it - but there's probably lots of people who can't.

"I tried to register with my local GP in Portadown almost a year ago but they have put me on a waiting list and won't give me a letter of refusal which I need to get assigned with someone else.

"The irony is that I have private health insurance through work - but I can't get anything done because I need a GP referral.

"I had to go to A&E last year which, as someone who studies health systems, I hated doing as it wasn't the right place for me to go.

"I was given steroid medication by a Melbourne GP in January but as of now if I have no GP and if I become ill again have no option but to go back to A&E."

Portadown is one of many areas in Northern Ireland which has come under strain due to increasing pressures.

Earlier this year, a practice in Portadown hit the headlines when just one GP was left struggling to look after the surgery's 5,200 patients.

Mr Calvert said he travelled home to Melbourne in January and was seen by a GP, had a chest x-ray and bloods taken within 24 hours of making an appointment online.

He said: "Despite making a major contribution to the Northern Irish economy, and paying a huge amount of tax to the government, I am unable to access basic GP services in my area."

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