Crunch meeting on growing fears over doctors crisis

Maguiresbridge surgery to close with retirement of Dr Michael Smyth

Maguiresbridge surgery closed with patients transferring to Lisnaskea

A PUBLIC meeting has been planned for the Donn Carragh Hotel, Lisnaskea this Friday, 6th January (at 7.30pm) to highlight concerns about the future of local GP surgeries.

To date, the GP surgery in Maguiresbridge has closed and patients requiring attention are being diverted to two named doctors on a Brookeborough phone number.


Its closure has been caused by the recent retirement, after 31 years in general practice of Dr Michael Smyth.

Elsewhere in the county, there are doubts over the future of GP practices in Ederney, Roslea and Belleek. For a while, it looked as if the practices in Ederney and Roslea were secure following a ‘rescue takeover’, but, it seems, not so now.

The relevant trade union, Unite NI has taken up the fight on behalf of patients and GPs who, they submit, are paid less than their UK counterparts, despite having heavier workloads.

It held a protest meeting in Maguiresbridge and it has now organised a follow-up public meeting in Lisnaskea this Friday, 6th January, at 7.30pm in the Donn Carragh Hotel.

Its spokesman, Donal O’Cofaigh described the closure of the GP practice in Maguiresbridge as ‘another blow for patients’.

He commented: “We have already seen this happening in many areas of England. It is death by a thousand cuts, and we need to take action now.”

He said the current emergency was all down to ‘inadequate’ numbers of doctors coming out from universities due to a lack of training places.


He added: “There is also insufficient support for doctors who are facing increased pressure in that the pay rate being offered them is quite low relative to the amount of work they’re doing.”

He said rural communities had a right to local GP services and said the situation demanded serious action from the Health minister, Michelle O’Neill.

Asked about this week’s public meeting in Lisnaskea, Tom Elliott, the local Ulster Unionist MP, told the Herald that, while he wasn’t aware of the meeting, ‘there is certainly a massive problem with the scarcity of GPs’.

“I had a recent meeting with the Dean of Medical Services from the University of Ulster discussing the deepening problem and we shared some ideas for longer-term solutions. However, there is still a major short-term problem.”

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