Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has raised concerns with the Health Minister at Stormont around what has been described by local GPs as ‘an imminent crisis’ at Portadown Health Centre.
Speaking during a health debate Mrs Dobson described the situation at the town's Health Centre as ‘a very serious scenario’ and urged the Minister to meet with and enter into constructive dialogue with local GPs.
Mrs Dobson said:
“This morning I told the Minister that I would facilitate a meeting between her and local GPs from the town if she would agree to meet with them. However, I was disappointed that she has ignored that request and also ignored an urgent written question which I tabled over a month ago on the specific issues affecting the Bannview Practice.
“Ministerial cars seem to be pre-programmed to show up at good news stories, but when action is needed those in responsibility are often nowhere to be seen.
“My colleague Doug Beattie MLA and I are on record as calling on the Health Minister to intervene and take measures to find a resolution to the shortfall in GPs in Portadown.
“I have written to the Minister following this morning’s debate to put that meeting request in writing with her and I urge her to seek an urgent solution to this desperate situation which has the potential to have repercussions for the health of over forty thousand people registered for medical care in Portadown.
“Any solution must be made in full conjunction with local GPs and not forced upon them – hence my request for the Minister to meet with the GPs directly in the best interests of maintaining a safe service in Portadown. A cold and clinical process of what has been called by the Health and Social Care Board "managed dispersal" will only result in already mounting pressure on the remaining six practices becoming untenable.
“What has been unfolding in the town’s health centre has been incredibly concerning not least for the GPs, nurses and non-clinical staff at the centre, but also for the health and safety of local people registered at the centre.
“This is a precarious situation and I once again call on the Health Minister to intervene to support Bannview Practice as a matter of urgency in what is now a dire situation. Failure to do so could have serious implications in the new year for the health of the people of Portadown.”