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New GP provider pulls out of contract

Credit: This story was first seen on the BBC

Attempts to save a County Armagh GP practice have failed after a new contractor withdrew from the process, the BBC reports.

Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown faced closure after its last remaining doctor resigned. It has 5,200 patients on its books.

The BBC understands that the new contractor, who is based in Belfast, had agreed to take over the practice.

However, that GP has now withdrawn from the contract, according to the Department of Health.

Previously, health minister Michelle O’Neill said she had hoped that the new provider would be in place from early March.

However, the minister has now expressed disappointment at the development.

“This is extremely disappointing news and I have asked for an urgent meeting with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) to ensure that patients continue to receive safe and high quality healthcare. The HSCB will continue to manage the practice in the interim period until a new contractor is appointed.”

The minister added: “No decision has been made to close the practice and the HSCB will be writing to all patients to advise them of the current arrangements.”

Bannview Medical Practice once had four full-time GPs tending to its 5,200 patients.

Clare McConville-Walker, a patient at the surgery, said she felt “let down and disappointed”.

“I don’t feel we were given enough information throughout this process,” she told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme. “We had little bits of information, mostly through the media, and had to hear that the contractor had pulled out again through the media. We’re worried and fearful that the surgery will close now.”

Ms McConville-Walker, who has elderly relatives who use the surgery on a daily basis, said they were currently receiving treatment from locums. But she said there was no “continuity of care” and her relatives sometimes see a different professional every day.

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Ms Dobson added that she has submitted an urgent oral question to “compel” the health minster to “explain this situation to the public via the assembly chamber”.

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