Co Antrim GP services get thrown lifeline

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein representative Oliver McMullan with doctors and staff of the Glens of Antrim GP practice in Cushendall during a visit last November. The Cushendall practice is opening a branch service in Carnlough to cater for Glenarm and Carnlough patients.
Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein representative Oliver McMullan with doctors and staff of the Glens of Antrim GP practice in Cushendall during a visit last November. The Cushendall practice is opening a branch service in Carnlough to cater for Glenarm and Carnlough patients.

Patients at a Co Antrim GP practice which is set to close next month have given a lifeline after new GP services were announced for the area.

Patients in Glenarm had feared that they would have to travel for several miles to access medical services after the closure.

Now, Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced that a neighbouring surgery will open a new base in the nearby village of Carnlough to provide a GP available four-and-a-half days a week and a full-time treatment room nurse operating.

The service will be a branch of Cushendall’s Glens of Antrim Medical Centre, which will be seeking a permanent base for the service.

Over 1,300 of the patients registered with Dr Glover’s Glenarm practice will be taken on by the expanded service in Carnlough, with other patients being registered with neighbouring GP practices.

Minister O’Neill said: “I am pleased to be able to outline the new GP services for the people of Carnlough and that residents in Glenarm will continue to be able to access GP services close to them.

“GPs are often at the heart of the rural communities they serve and that is why I am pleased to be able to confirm the continuation and expansion of services in this area.”

Retiring GP Dr Glover said that “time will tell” if patients are happy with the arrangement.

He commented: “A big part of the solution is that there are going to be facilities in Carnlough which will make things a lot easier as people would have had trouble getting to Cushendall which is quite far away and there is quite a poor bus service.”

“The other 700 patients who will not be allocated to the Carnlough service will be allocated to GPs in Larne or Broughshane, and they will live within the 10 mile practice radius.”

East Antrim Alliance candidate Stewart Dickson said: “It is good to see my lobbying pay off and create this new service that will be available from April.”