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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Dr Craig Wylie, Lead GP of Duality Healthcare’s new Galgorm Clinic, speaks to Love Ballymena

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Dr Craig Wylie

Dr Craig Wylie


Dr Craig Wylie until recently worked locally as a full-time GP, part of the team at Galgorm Surgery in Ballymena.


Dr Wylie talks of the lack of funding and service reform, as well as insufficient levels of support and protection - all reasons that led to him personally rethink his "career-long aspiration of becoming an NHS GP Partner".


Galgorm Surgery is now closed.



It has been one of the casualties of increasing pressures and demands against a backdrop of chronic underfunding over the last decade in Northern Ireland's health service. This year - 2023 - has been the worst year for GP surgeries handing back contracts to the Department of Health.


Overall, 18 practices have ended their contacts since 2021, of which 14 occurred this year, affecting all but the Belfast Trust.



The Northern Trust had the worst figures, with six practices affected, mainly stemming from the Ballymena area, having had no issues in the preceding two years.


Reflecting on recent times, Dr Craig Wylie, a family man who feels passionate about his job, said, "I could see no viable “Plan B” on the table - or even on the horizon - to save NHS GP services."


 

From Dr Craig Wylie, Lead GP of Duality Healthcare’s new Galgorm Clinic


The average person in Northern Ireland is finding it harder than ever to access appointments with their NHS GP. Funding cuts and lack of service reform have resulted in an uncertain era of practice closures and changes of contract holder, especially in the Ballymena area.


There is quite rightly an escalating dissatisfaction amongst patients and GPs - the status quo is no longer an option.


I’ve provided locum work across 15 NHS GP Surgeries in the Northern Area, including several practices under ‘crisis measures’. I was formerly working as a salaried GP locally in Galgorm Surgery with a great team. I made the difficult decision to resign my post earlier this year.



Considering the current levels of support and protection offered to NHS GP Surgeries, I could not safely and in good faith continue with my career-long aspiration of becoming an NHS GP Partner.


Duality Healthcare Galgorm Clinic

The new Duality Healthcare Galgorm Clinic

Jayne, Health Care Assistant; Dr Craig Wylie, Lead General Practitioner, Galgorm; John McEvoy, CEO, Duality Healthcare; Katie, Receptionist; Dr Declan Morgan, CEO, Duality Healthcare; Marian, Health Care Assistant.

The Team (L-R); Jayne, Health Care Assistant; Dr Craig Wylie, Lead General Practitioner, Galgorm; John McEvoy, CEO, Duality Healthcare; Katie, Receptionist; Dr Declan Morgan, CEO, Duality Healthcare; Marian, Health Care Assistant.


I could see no viable “Plan B” on the table - or even on the horizon - to save NHS GP services. I needed to do something different, and that’s when I reached out to Dr Declan Morgan a few months ago after hearing about his company Duality Healthcare, based in Newry.


I was immediately captured by his vision: a province-wide plan to bring affordable and accessible private GP and Urgent Care services to our local communities.



His family-owned company has already been providing services to thousands of patients for 6 years, including specialist services that normally involve waiting on the NHS (e.g. joint injections, contraceptive implants and coil insertions, ear wax cleaning & microsuction, and minor surgery).


He detailed availability of on site blood tests, ultrasound services, hearing tests, STD tests, private medicals, and health screening (‘MOT’s) alongside other additional services - I was very impressed by the range of services offered, especially those beyond the remit of most NHS GP surgeries.



We met in Ballymena on a coffee-fuelled Saturday afternoon (another americano with an extra shot, please!) to compare our past and present experiences of General Practice. We discussed his key service priorities:


• Same-day access for urgent care

• Longer (15min+) face-to-face GP appointments as standard

• Aiming to provide GP appointments within 48 hours when requested

• No barriers when seeking to access care and online self-booking

• Extended weekday, and weekend opening hours to suit busy lifestyles

• Maintaining safe working conditions for all our clinicians

• Affordability for patients


I agreed to join as Lead GP for Duality Healthcare Galgorm.

Since, I’ve been working closely with Dr Morgan and his business partner John McEvoy to bring this service to the people of Ballymena.


Duality Healthcare Galgorm Clinic

I’m excited to announce that we are seeing patients NOW at our beautiful clinic on the Galgorm Castle Estate! We are based at Units 21 & 22 in the Galgorm Castle Business Park, between our neighbour businesses NFU Mutual/Farmers Union and Coulter Weir Welath Management.


We have GPs, nurse practitioners, and healthcare assistants ready to see you, and our receptionists are waiting to answer queries, and help you access our services! We take “drop-in” appointments for Urgent Care, and prebookable GP appointments at the time, and for the time, that suits you.



As the Lead GP I will be providing clinical sessions regularly in Duality Healthcare Galgorm and supporting all the staff in their new roles. I’ve already met with our local NHS GP representatives to ensure they are aware of our presence and I will continue to engage proactively and constructively with local NHS GP practices, and pharmacies.


Duality Healthcare Galgorm Clinic


I’ve also listened closely to the experiences of the GPs and Nurse Practitioners I’ve spoken with over the past few months who have expressed interest in working with us. Something about what we’re doing is striking a chord with clinicians who are needing to see a positive alternative vision for the future of Primary Care in Northern Ireland.


Some other GPs are thinking about starting out themselves in private practice. To those colleagues I would say we have the ready-made “Plan B” model you’ve been waiting for, set up in two locations, with several more on the way in 2024.



We’re happy to hear from you to see how we could work well together with the patient experience at the centre.


To ensure our services remain affordable, we have developed a tiered membership plan with additional benefits and discounts starting at only £6.99/month for an individual or £14.99/month for a family.

Details of our full services & membership options, and our opening hours, are available on our website: www.dualityhealth.co.uk


The team pictured outside the new premises of Duality Healthcare's Galgorm Clinic

The team pictured outside the new premises of Duality Healthcare's Galgorm Clinic


You’re welcome to visit us in Galgorm or Newry, and tell us how we can help you with your healthcare needs!


MORE BELOW BY DR CRAIG WYLIE (Lead GP at Duality Healthcare Galgorm)




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The following companies and people have been central to the work on our premises over the last two months.


My sincere and very special thanks to Johnny Spiers of Robert Steele Joinery, Gordon McClure of Spence Electrical, Philip Beatty & Mark Rea of Philip Beatty Plumbing & Heating, Tony McCollum of TM Flooring, Mervyn and Ross, of Adams Ceilings, Mervyn of Ballymena Fire Extinguishers, Nigel Jones Architects, and of course the team at the Galgorm Castle Estate working with Gary Henry and Neil McCartney.

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