Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has warned that GP services are in crisis in the Portadown area after practices in the area called an emergency meeting and decided not to accept any new patients from a practice set to close in less than a fortnight.
Some 5,200 patients may not have a GP after the closure of the Bannview Practice, Mr Beattie said.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “Whilst the Executive is pre-occupied fire-fighting the RHI scandal, it has let what started as a problem in general practice in Portadown escalate to a full-blown crisis. This has resulted in potentially over 5,000 patients having no access to a GP after the closure of the Bannview Practice in the town from Monday 16 January.
“This is totally unacceptable and is an indictment of the lack of vision within our Executive who are now so focused on trying to distract public attention that they have failed the people of Portadown by taking their eye off the ball on the most important issue to people – their health and well-being.
“The decision by all of the Practices in Portadown to apply for a temporary list closure with immediate effect demonstrates the sheer scale of the pressure already weighing down on our GPs. All practices in the town are already operating with a list size of over 2,000 patients per GP, far higher than the Northern Ireland average of 1,500. GPs in Portadown would simply not be able to take on any of the Bannview patients without compromising the quality and safety of care to their current patients.
“My colleague Jo-Anne Dobson significantly managed to secure the recall of the Stormont Health Committee last month on this issue so neither the Minister nor any of the other political parties can claim that the problems in Portadown have come as any surprise. The Health Minister must take control of this issue and put in place short term measures to ensure the 5,200 individuals who had been registered to Bannview are not effectively left drifting without essential GP care.”