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Closure of Kells & Connor Medical Practice was avoidable – UUP

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Kells & Connor Medical Practice

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann and Councillor Keith Turner have warned the closure of the Kells and Connor Medical Practice is likely to heap further pressure on already struggling neighbouring GP Practices.

Before the closure was announced the two UUP representatives met with the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health to stress the urgency for action to be taken.

Following the subsequent revelation that the Practice was still closing and the 4,000 patients were to be dispersed across other GP Practices, both UUP men revealed the outcome could have been avoidable had there been a Health Minister in post.

Robin Swann said:

“During the meeting with the Department of Health senior management, both Cllr Turner and I warned that unless immediate action was taken and the practice was saved from closure, it could be laying the foundations of even greater problems to come for the wider area.

“Whilst I acknowledge despite the efforts of Department officials and others, no qualified GP could be found to take over the practice, there was another option.

“Whenever the Dromore & Trillick GP Practice in County Tyrone was facing the scenario of patient dispersal during my time as Minister of Health, instead of allowing that to happen I instructed the Western Trust to take that contract on.

"Had there been a Minister of Health in post now perhaps a similar instruction would have been given to the Northern Trust, even on a very short-term basis. It would have avoided the scenario of patients having to be spread out across other GP practices, many of which are already operating with full lists.

"Unfortunately however it was confirmed to me during the meeting with the Department that such a decision wasn’t possible in the absence of a Minister".

Cllr Keith Turner also asked the Department of Health officials come to the village and engage with residents to make sure that they have the ability to ask questions of these who have made this decision and how their healthcare will be supported safely.

“The recent funding and increase in GP training numbers will be of cold comfort to the patients of Kells and Connor. The Department must now ensure that where possible nurse or allied health professional led services that can be provided in the surgery are maintained or even expanded, and the Department and Trust must continue to work at pace to see what else is possible.”


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