Department of Health seeking to “develop alternative arrangements” for Galgorm Surgery
The Department of Health today confirmed that it is beginning a "process to develop alternative arrangements" after yet another GP practice in Ballymena handed back it's contract and said it is to close.
Galgorm Surgery, located on Galgorm Road in the town, announced the latest in the ongoing saga involving GP provision in the wider Ballymena area on Friday evening, May 19th on the practice website.
The 'Practice Closure' statement said:
"It is with deep regret that we have to inform you that we have given notice to the Department of Health that we are handing back our contract to deliver GP GMS services.
"We have endeavoured to keep going despite the well known pressures within General Practice in Northern Ireland which are particularly acute in the Ballymena Area.
"Unfortunately, these escalating pressures, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding our current premises has left us with no other option than to withdraw from our contract.
"It has been an honour and privilege for us all to serve the patients of Galgorm Surgery. We would like to reassure patients that we will continue to deliver GP services as normal until the 31st August 2023."
Galgorm Surgery is understood to provide care for around 2,400 patients. Dr Leanne Johnston is the lead GP Partner, with two salaried GP's also working in the surgery - Dr Anna O'Kane, and Dr Craig Wylie.
Responding to the announcement, a spokesperson for the Department of Health told Love Ballymena:
"The Department of Health (DoH) can confirm that the GP at Galgorm Surgery has given notice of their intention to withdraw from their contract to deliver General Medical Services at the end of the notice period in three months’ time, i.e 31st August 2023. DoH will now begin a process to develop alternative arrangements for these services.
"A number of different options are available to ensure patients are not left without a GP service. The preferred option is to secure a GP contractor – or grouping of GPs – to take over the practice through a formal recruitment process.
"We want to reassure patients that the existing Galgorm Surgery will continue to retain the contract to deliver GP services for the next three months. Patients at the practice do not need to take any action. They should continue to contact the practice as normal. We will be writing to all practice patients to keep them informed as this process begins.
"The Department acknowledges the ongoing and significant pressures on GP practices, stemming from the fact that demand for their services is outstripping capacity to provide it.
"Notwithstanding budgetary pressures, the Department is committed to building the GP workforce. We have made significant progress in relation to the number of GPs we train each year. The number of GP training places in Northern Ireland has been increased by 70% from 2015 levels in recent years. The review of places is ongoing and the Department will consider recommendations from the review of training places in the future.
"The Department has also recently streamlined the processes for GPs who qualified in a number of countries to take up roles in Northern Ireland."