Funding wait for GP surgery

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has accused Health Minister Edwin Poots of “failing to commit to fund” a new GP surgery for the residents of Donaghcloney and Waringstown.

This follows Mrs Dobson asking Mr Poots to make a special case for the area but she claims that he responded saying he couldn’t. However, Mr Poots has rebuffed the accusation.

A proposal to build a new doctor’s surgery in Donaghcloney and to look into the possibility of hiring a third GP was recently welcomed by the DUP.

A search for funding is now underway after the way forward was agreed by staff and patients at a public meeting held in Donaghcloney Primary School recently.

Mrs Dobson commented: “Following the recent public meeting held in Donaghcloney, I asked the Minister directly if he would make a special case for Donaghcloney and Waringstown residents given the impact of the closure of the Waringstown branch surgery.

“Unfortunately in his response Mr Poots has told me he is ‘not in a position to advise when such a facility will receive the necessary funding or when it will be open to patients’.”

She continued: “This answer will be a disappointment to the residents of both villages and heralds a long and uncertain wait for their new surgery.

“I had hoped that the Minister would see the sense in the argument that as health services are being impacted by the Waringstown closure that funds should be brought forward earlier rather than later.

“However, this appears not to be a priority for the Minister or the Department of Health.”

Mr Poots responded: “I understand that the HSCB have been working closely with the GP Practice over the last number of months to try and address it. The GPs have developed an options appraisal looking at the future development of services within the area and they are currently seeking the views of patients, until the end of October, before submitting a final options appraisal to the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) for consideration.

“In tandem with this process the HSCB will commence meetings in October with the GP practices in the Lurgan area, including Donaghcloney surgery, to discuss the potential service model and associated primary care infrastructure requirements to deliver Transforming Your Care in this area. Once the service model for the area has been agreed the HSCB will review, with the local GPs, the plans for any future development alongside the funding options, taking account of current funding priorities across health and social care.”