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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Carnlough community group 'disappointed but not surprised’ over decision on GP services reduction

Carnlough Surgery provided by Glens Of Antrim Medical Centre

Carnlough Community Association has said a decision by the Equality Commission Northern Ireland not to back residents following a reduction of funding for GP services in the village is “disappointing but not surprising”.

In a statement on social media, Carnlough Community Association said:

“We have recently received news from the Equality Commission Northern Ireland who have advised us that a decision has been made by the committee.

“At their meeting on 7th February 2024, the committee carefully considered our request for a review and the information provided. It further considered, the grounds set out for complaints and investigations on which it can review its decisions. The committee decided that the review request provided no grounds for them to review its decision.

“We are sorry that we have received this outcome, although disappointing, it is not surprising.”

It is understood the community group has been advised by a human rights group that it has a case for complaint “on equality grounds”.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has also demanded the reinstatement of fully-funded GP services in the seaside village after surgery hours were reduced to two half days in 2022 after it could no longer cover the costs of a full-time service in Carnlough.

The Cushendall-based Glens of Antrim Medical Centre agreed to accept 1,381 patients in February 2017 following the closure of a GP practice in Glenarm, and that year,  the practice opened a surgery at Harbour Road in Carnlough.

The Glens of Antrim Medical Centre believed from the outset a “full-time service” was to be provided in Carnlough but received additional temporary funding support for just three years which was extended for a further year due to the impact of Covid-19 and “kept the surgery going” full-time in Carnlough for a year thereafter at its own expense.

The Department of Health insisted the funding arrangement was “never to last indefinitely and was over and above the standard funding which all GP practices received based on their patient population”.

A spokesperson for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said:

“The Equality Commission has the power to investigate a complaint of an alleged breach of a public authority’s equality scheme which we were asked to do in this case.

“The Commission couldn’t consider investigating the complaint made as it was found to be out of time.

“We were subsequently asked to review this decision. The Commission carefully considered all the information in the request, but decided that there were no grounds in it for the Commission to review its decision that the complaint was out of time.

“The Commission understands that the Glens of Antrim Medical Practice ran the services being delivered in Carnlough, and that it did so following the closure of the Antrim Coast Medical Practice. We also understand that the closures are related to the issues being experienced in many communities throughout Northern Ireland due to shortages of GPs.”


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