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Doctor insists merger will secure long-term future

Derrylin Surgery is to amalgamate with Derrygonnelly

IT HAS been claimed that the planned amalgamation of GP practices in Derrylin, Florencecourt and Derrygonnelly will benefit patients in the area, despite concerns raised by local elected representatives in last week’s Herald.
Last week the Herald reported how the Derrylin, Benlaughlin, and Derrygonnelly surgeries would amalgamate from April 1st, becoming the ‘Cuilcagh Medical Practice.’ The move was prompted by the retirement of husband and wife team, Drs John and Aisling Kirby, from the Derrylin practice.
News of the amalgamation prompted concern locally, with fears of a situation similar to what transpired following the closure of the Roslea surgery where patients have claimed merging with Lisnaskea has caused serious difficulties.
However Dr Brendan O’Hare, who led a similar amalgamation initiative in Ederney, insisted the new Cuilcagh practice was “a completely different situation.”
Dr O’Hare said the GPs at the other surgeries in Florencecourt and Derrygonnelly stepped in when it became apparent the roles vacated by Drs Kirby in Derrylin were not going to be filled as “young doctors by and large simply won’t join small practices.”
“They looked at this situation and they could see if they didn’t do something they were going to picked off one by one, because Derrylin would fall, and then in time they would fall,” said Dr O’Hare.
“They didn’t have to do this, they could’ve sat there and just watched the world fall down, but I thought what they’ve done is quite courageous and it’s certainly innovative.”
Dr O’Hare said by joining up the Cuilcagh practice had now attracted two new female doctors, who have both previously been working in the county as locums, which will mean the people of Derrylin, Florencecourt and Derrygonnelly will have the same amount of doctors available, and even more choice in certain instances.
They would not have joined a two doctor practice,” he explained. “With five, they have been more than happy to join as partners.”
Dr O’Hare had helped advise the Cuilcagh practice in setting up, having led a similar initiative in Ederney, with Western Rural Health Care. That group now has purchased the building in Ederney, and six of its nine doctors are under the age of 35.
“As a sign of young colleagues facing the future with this type of model, you have a perfect example,” he said. “The list in Ederney has grown by more than 200 patients. It’s secure and it’s stable and I would commend Dr Cunningham, Dr Sweeney, and Dr Khew for their proactive approach in saving and stabilising services in south west Fermanagh.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA