O’Dowd raises constituent’s concerns over GP services


Sinn Féin MLA John O’ Dowd and Cllr Tommy O’ Connor have met with senior health officials to discuss GP services in the Upper Bann Constituency.

The Sinn Féin team met with a number of officials including Dr Sloan Harper, Director of Integrated Care on the Health and Social Care Board.

Speaking after the meeting Mr O’ Dowd said: “Our meeting with Health Board officials came on the back of concerns raised with us about the length of time some of our constituents were experiencing in awaiting GP appointment and a leaked report about low morale in the Out of Hours GP services. It is also a follow up to our meeting with local Health Officials.”

He continued: “In the weeks running up to the meeting, we undertook an online survey to garner experiences of local people in obtaining GP services. The result of this sample survey shows that about 60% of respondents found some difficulty in obtaining a GP appointment which suited them. Interestingly, our sample survey largely reflects a much broader survey carried out by the Patients Client Council in May of this year.”

Mr O’Dowd added: “The discussion with Dr Sloan and his team was very informative and we took the opportunity to impress upon them the concerns which our constituents had reported to us. The complex area of GP contracts largely governs how GP services are delivered and while there are no specific restrictions on the number of patients anyone GP surgery can have, the Health Board can intervene if evidence suggests that services are being affected by too few GPs and too many patients.”

Mr O’Dowd reiterated the purpose of our meeting was fact finding and in support of Priamry health care services which play such a vital role in our overall Health service.

Craigavon Cllr Tommy O’Connor also said the overall purpose of these engagements was ‘fact-finding’ and in support of Primary Health Care Services.

Cllr O Connor said: “Primary Health Care Services are vital to our health service and I welcomed the opportunity to explore the facts during this engagement. I found the meeting particularly useful as we were able to explain the difficulties facing many of our constituents.”

He concluded: “The Health Board were able to inform us that complaints about GP services are relatively low. The low level of complaints is encouraging and a reflection of the dedication of GP and their staff however it is also important if someone does have a complaint that they register it. The vast a majority of complaints are resolved quick quickly and through informal procedures and if anyone requires further information they can contact the Patient Client Council on 028 3834 9900.”