Lisnaskea GP practice pressures reinforce need for MLAs to get to work on reform, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said those delaying the operation of the devolved institutions are ensuring public services will continue to collapse, after one of Northern Ireland’s biggest GP practices declared its intention to hand back its contract.

Health Paula Bradshaw Health Service

The operators of the Maple Healthcare in Lisnaskea declared their intention in a letter last week, citing ‘excessive stresses and intolerable pressures’. Patients have been reassured services will continue there for the next six months.

South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw said the lack of an Executive was holding up the transformation of health and social care here.

“The potential closure of Maple Healthcare will naturally cause significant concern to the community in south-east Fermanagh, but also provides a serious warning which should reverberate across the whole of Northern Ireland,” she said.

“The ongoing deadlock at Stormont makes no difference to the UK-EU relationship but every difference to people trying to access even basic healthcare services. MLAs need not only to be back at work with a fully operational Executive and Assembly, but also to take seriously the urgent need for reform which we have known about for years.

“Alliance has put forward a series of proposals, both broadly in terms of transformation and specifically concerning winter pressures, which include ideas on how to relieve pressure on GPs both in the short and longer term. For example, dealing with the indemnity issue may enable some to delay retirement or to return to work on a part-time basis, in a way which is currently impractical.

“This is in marked contrast to the DUP, which refuses to answer questions on how its current strategy offers any assistance to GPs, nor what it can do to make the difference while denying us the ability to appoint a Minister and to scrutinise the Department’s work fully.

“This is to the detriment of GPs, of the health service broadly, and most of all to the public as they seek to access public healthcare. The DUP needs to stop using the health service as leverage and get on with the job we were all elected to do in May.”