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Ballymena GP says care of patients will be “fundamentally compromised” following DoH decision

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

GP surgery sign.

A Ballymena GP has expressed serious concerns around the care of patients following the announcement today of the decision by the Department of Health (DoH) to close Kells & Connor Medical Practice.

In a statement issued earlier on Thursday confirming the closure of the local practise, the DoH said: "Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all parties involved, a new GP contractor has not been identified to take over the running of Practice.  Regrettably, this means that from 1 May 2023, the medical centre will close." The statement confirmed that over 4,000 patients would be dispersed among other local medical practices.

In a letter sent today to Dr O'Brien of the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG), a local GP has strongly criticised the communication from the body, saying practices have been "have been left in limbo".

The GP went on to say:

"I would like to say the lack of communication or engagement with local practices is surprising, but unfortunately it is what I have come to expect from SPPG.

"With three weeks to go, including two bank holiday weekends, yet again, practices are left in the dark with potentially a significant number of patients being handed to them overnight."

Most concerning for patients in the Ballymena area is the doctor's warning that current practice's patient care would be "fundamentally compromised" if forced to absorb patients displaced by the closure of Kells & Connor Medical Practice.

The letter said:

"As a single handed GP, the care of my current patients would be fundamentally compromised. The allocated patients would also be at significant risk as there is insufficient time for their care to be transferred in a safe, controlled manner.

"Good Medical Practice dictates that patient safety is paramount and this allocation would force me to practice in an unsafe manner. CMC guidance is very clear:

'all doctors have a duty to raise concerns where they believe that patient safety or care is being compromised by the practice of colleagues or the systems, policies and procedures in the organisation in which they work.' (GMC Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety, March 2012]

Concluding the local doctor stated:

"I am raising a formal concern that patients will be at risk of serious harm if additional patients from Kells and Connor practice are forcibly allocated to my practice by SPPG".


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