Fears for patients as clinic to cut services during Open
Services at Portrush Medical Centre will be reduced during The Open this summer, it has emerged.
The clinic will be operating restricted services for patients while the prestigious golf championship takes place in July.
The facility confirmed a "limited service" would be in operation during the competition, which runs from July 15-19.
It said: "Due to severe parking and waiting restrictions imposed during The Open golf week, please be aware we are only able to offer a limited service for patients.
"The GPs will endeavour to ensure all patients requiring immediate and necessary treatment will be cared for to the best of our ability.
"Unfortunately all review and routine appointments will have to be suspended for this week.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your understanding but due to exceptional circumstances we regret that this is beyond our control.
"Please do not run out of repeat medication during The Open, we strongly advise you order your repeat prescription a week in advance if it falls due that week as pharmacy services will also be disrupted."
There are concerns it could lead to longer waiting hours at emergency departments.
Local Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald voiced her fear the move could heap pressure on already struggling A&Es.
"I will be seeking clarification from the trust on the situation," she said.
"Provision of accessible health services should always be a priority and anything that would put additional pressure on emergency services should be avoided."
The Health and Social Care Board said staff are working with Portrush Medical Centre to ensure that patients can continue to be treated despite traffic disruptions during The Open.
It said: "This may involve arrangements such as telephone triage and prescription pick-up services with local pharmacies."
Causeway Coast and Glens Council said it was working to "minimise community disruption throughout the week of The Open".
It confirmed road restrictions will be in place to ensure public safety and to minimise the disruption upon the community in the town.
"These road restrictions in accordance with legislation are deemed necessary following careful consideration of the event and based upon our collective experience from the Irish Open in 2012 and 2017," the council added. "Throughout the preparation for hosting The Open, the council has been assessing the impact on the community and in doing so identified the need to specifically engage with health care providers.
"Consequently, representatives of the traffic and transport group have met with the Northern Health Trust, the Medical Centre, local pharmacies and other community healthcare service providers.
"Parking for Blue Badge holders will be created on Dunluce Avenue for the week of The Open and work is continuing to secure parking for healthcare providers as well as creating additional spaces for customers of the medical centre."