Stephen Farry MP, Andrew Muir MLA and Connie Egan MLA have continued to hold meetings in response to the recent news which threw the future of the surgeries in Holywood and Bangor into jeopardy.
Last week the team met with representatives from the BMA, and Senior Officials at Department of Health, after having previously met with the Royal College of Gps, where it was revealed a possible way forward could be forthcoming.
Commenting on the outcome of recent engagements, Dr Stephen Farry MP said: “News about Priory and Springhill GP Surgeries came as a real shock for many and is causing significant apprehension and concern, hence why we feel it’s necessary to work with all involved to seek an urgent resolution. Plan A of new partners taking over the practice must be pursued apace whilst Plan B, involving the local Trust taking over the operation is prepared. Full contingencies must be in place to ensure continuity of care.
“News about Priory and Springhill does however come in the context of wider crisis in our Health and Social Care system with reducing number of GPs, need for long term workforce planning aided by a multi-year budget blocked due to the DUP boycott of Stormont and shockingly long waiting lists. The system is teetering on the verge of collapse and needs swift interventions to stabilise and rebuild our NHS.”
Stephen Farry expressed deep concerns around a number of fundamental issues that need addressed to avoid losing experienced medics from the system, at a time when they are needed more than ever. He has written to the Health Minister and to the Chancellor to urge for imminent solutions around GP indemnity requirements and tax charges that are arising in relation to GP pensions as a result of inflation. Such financial disincentives need resolved immediately to ensure the sustainability of GP services and the broader NHS.
Andrew Muir MLA, said: “Whilst news that expressions of interest have been received from possible partners to take over at Priory and Springhill is welcome interviews and further work must follow to see how viable this is. The Department of Health need to progress this process without delay whilst also preparing back-up plans involving the Trust taking over the operation. Whatever happens must ensure continuity of care with fully resources practices able to offer full range of services at service standards patients need.”
Concluding, Connie Egan MLA added: “As a follow-up we will be writing to Health Minister Robin Swann MLA requesting an update and action on a range of wider issues vital to secure the long term delivery of GP Services across Northern Ireland. The system is in crisis and needs turned around fast.”