The Health and Social Care Board has said Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown will NOT close on January 13 - although they did not reveal what alternative arrangements have been made as the last GP there leaves.
A board spokesperson said, “We would like to reassure patients of the Practice that high quality and safe GP services will continue to be provided from this date.
“No decisions have been made to close the practice.
“The Board is currently in discussions with a potential contractor to take over Bannview Medical Practice and we will provide a further update to all patients with developments as they progress.”
The spokesperson added, “The Board and Practice apologise to all patients for the current inconvenience and will continue to work diligently together over the coming days to endeavour to ensure normal cover and the full provision of general medical services resumes as soon as possible.
“We would ask patients to continue to support the Practice at this time.”
The Board is unable to make any further comment at this time until negotiations are completed, the spokesperson concluded.
Earlier today (Wednesday, January 4) local MP David Simpson issued the assurances the practice would remain open as it emerged a patient protest was being planned over claims the practice is to close.
Indeed reception staff at the practice have received their redundancy notices and just two weeks ago the Portadown Times reported how the last remaining doctor at the practice had handed in her notice citing an intolerable workload.
Dr Shauna Heanen, who will leave Bannview Medical Practice in a week’s time gave the Portadown Times permission to print her letter allowing her to ‘speak directly’ to her patients.
The letter was presented at a special, recalled sitting of the Stormont Health Committee before Christmas.
In it, Dr Heanen revealed how she found herself caring for 5,200 patients on her own in October, after her colleagues left.
On the day that she had to admit she couldn’t cope any more, she had been overwhelmed by the workload.
Dr Heanen outlined her fears of what will happen at the practice when she leaves. “At present my reception staff are starting to leave as they have been put on to redundancy notice.
“I have multiple patients on serious drugs who require monitoring who I cannot give follow-up appointments to as they fall after my resignation date.
“I have palliative care patients who are dying, patients who have cancer, patients with severe mental health problems and children on at risk registers who will not have a GP in less than three weeks,” she wrote at that time.
“The rest of the practices in the health centre are not far behind us at present and if each were to get 1,000 extra patients, they will one by one collapse.”
A protest against the presumed closure of Bannview Medical Practice has been organised for Friday - and is still going ahead despite the assurances.
It has been called by patient Tony Hendron, following yesterday (Tuesday’s) revelation in the Portadown Times that the remaining six practices at Portadown Health Centre have applied to temporarily close their lists to new patients.
The practices have said any additional workload will push them “into an unsafe, unsustainable and potentially dangerous operating environment for GPs and patients”.
The protest will take place at 12.30pm.