Southern Health Trust issues statement on beleaguered GP surgery in a bid to reassure 5,200 patients

The Southern Health Trust, which manages the beleaguered GP surgery in Portadown currently without any full time GPs, issued a statement last night in a bid to assure the 5,200 patients.
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Bannview Medical Practice, based in Portadown Health Centre switched to the system on Wednesday morning leaving patients worried and confused as they were unable to contact anyone at the clinic

The practice has been relying on locum doctors for several months and the Trust had advertised for a full time GP for the practice.

Last night the Trust spokerspons said: “The Trust is continuing to work closely with the Health and Social Care Board to secure a solution as quickly as possible to the current GP shortages in the Bannview Medical Practice Portadown.

Portadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. 

Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press EyePortadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. 

Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Portadown Health & Care Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye

“The practice remains open and patients should continue to contact the practice as normal.

“Patients with urgent care needs will continue to be assessed through the normal telephone triage process, which for the next few days will be provided by the Trust’s Phone First service.

“Arrangements have also been put in place for patients with particular medical conditions.

“Bannview Practice patients who are scheduled to receive their Covid-19 vaccination should still attend their appointment.”

Today (Thursday) Bannview Medical Practice website continues to say there are five doctors at the practice.

A statement from the Trust was put up this morning via a link entitled ‘Bannview Final Statement’ and that does refer to the current status at the practice.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “I have had a meeting with the Health Minister Robin Swann and representatives from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust”.

“I understand many people have been left confused and frustrated when they rang Bannview.

“I can confirm the answer system was set up to make sure anyone needing immediate medical assistance was able to access this in the short term.

“From tomorrow onwards this will be changed and phone calls should be answered.

“GP cover has been arranged and will be in place tomorrow onwards, the Trust is working hard to make sure there is a more permanent solution put in place but for now I can assure those who are under Bannview care that GPs will be put in place for medical assessments, prescriptions and any other needs.

“I must stress that the vaccination clinic due to take place next Thursday WILL go ahead so please do not cancel that appointment.”

Earlier Mr Beattie said there were ‘serious concerns, yet again, about the viability of Bannview Medical Practice that have been rumbling on for a number of years’.

“It now seems, that in the middle of a pandemic the practice has ceased operating leaving thousands of patients not knowing how to access prescriptions or receive their vaccination.

“As it presently stands, if you ring the Bannview Practise and automated message directs you to the Southern Trusts Phone First service. From there it is unsure if routine cases will be dealt with or just urgent care and confusing as to how vaccinations for COVID will be administered.”

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said: “Serious concerns in Portadown as Bannview GP practice remains closed with reports it has closed it doors with no plans to reopen.

“I have submitted an urgent question to the Health Minister asking for immediate intervention to provide GP cover for patients of the practice.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said their Upper Bann office had been receiving calls from constituents having difficulties contacting and arranging appointments at Bannview.

Mrs Kelly has asked an urgent priority Assembly question to the Health Minister on how he is addressing the shortage of doctors and nurses.

She said: “Having no doctor or nurse on-site this week due to mid-term leave is totally unacceptable.”

SDLP Cllr Eamon McNeill described the situation as ‘critical’ and worse than a ‘third world country’.

He said the surgery had been working with just nurses and this was unacceptable.

He said he will be contacting the Southern Trust to demand immediate action.

Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley said: “The news surrounding Bannview Medical Practice gives me great cause for concern.

“Despite the widely documented historical difficulties surrounding Bannview, it is extremely unfortunate that we are still experiencing serious staffing issues.

“The case surrounding Bannview is all the more alarming during Covid-19, at a time when there already is grave concern surrounding face to face consultations with GPs and indeed as the Covid-19 vaccination programme is being rolled out.

“I will be continuing to liaise with the Southern Trust and the Department of Health to find a sustainable way forward for the patients of Bannview medical practice.”

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has expressed concern at speculation surrounding the future of Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown.

Carla Lockhart said: “I’ve been contacted by those registered with the practice who are deeply concerned that it appears to have ceased operating, leaving patients in limbo and feeling very vulnerable.

“The long term problems at Bannview are well documented and it is regrettable that a sustainable model does not appear to have been found that provides the certainty of care that those registered with the practice deserve and require.

“Serious questions need to be asked of the Health Department now as to how we have got to this point, and how patients needs will be met. I have contacted the Trust and the Minister to try and ensure a solution is found.”

The Southern Health Trust has been asked for comment.



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