THERE are fears GP services in Fermanagh could be privatised, following the opening of a private surgery in Co Tyrone recently, in an area facing a similar GP crisis as here in the county.
Last month, following the retirement of a well known local doctor in the town earlier in the year, the Duality Health practice was opened in Dungannon. The practice will offer urgent and out-of-hours appointments for £49 and private GP appointments also for £49.
Speaking to the Dungannon Herald, Dr Declan Morgan, the doctor behind Duality Health, said they opened the practice to deal with demand, adding they’d already been finding patients had been travelling from the Dungannon area to their other practice in Newry.
“The idea is not to destabilise the health service that is in place, but to meet the demands of the public,” said Dr Morgan.
However, news of the opening of a private practice in an area facing a similar GP shortage as here in Fermanagh has been met with concern locally.
Chairman of Fermanagh Save Our Services, Padraig Murphy, said there had already been reports locally that a similar practice may open here in Fermanagh, though the Herald has had no confirmation of this to date.
Referring to long waiting lists at local surgeries, Mr Murphy said his campaign group had been warning the public for a long time of the danger of privatisation, and said those in desperate need here in the county were already seeking out paid-for services elsewhere.
Overall, he said he believes the continuing GP crisis was leading to a scenario where the powers-that-be could undermine the NHS.
“They are gradually breaking it down,” said Mr Murphy. “Everything points to privatisation sooner rather then later.”
It isn’t just with GP services, either, he said, said it was the NHS overall that was being put in jeopardy due to a “squandering and burning of money” on an “overloaded bureaucracy.”
Mr Murphy warned people to remember the consequences of losing the NHS, and moving to a paid-for service instead.
“This is coming to an area where we have a lot of working class people who can’t afford those services,” he said. “That is what the National Health Service was all about, it was introduced in the very poor time after the war.”