MORE RADICAL changes to doctors’ services in Fermanagh are on the way with the news that another three GP practices are to be amalgamated.
The announcement of the amalgamation of surgeries in Derrylin and Derrygonnelly surgery, along with the Benaughlin surgery in Florencecourt, has raised concerns about future of rural healthcare.
In particular there are concerns that the latest merger involves patients across a geographical area stretching up to twenty miles wide.
The plans follow on from the closure of the medical practice in Roslea with patients now travelling to Lisnaskea, a move which has been heavily criticised by local people.
The surgeries will amalgamate from April 1st, and will be known as the ‘Cuilcagh Medical Practice.’
A letter to patients from the Health and Social Care board explained: “This is due to the retirement of Drs John and Aisling Kirby, and the difficulty of recruiting young doctors to small rural practices.’ The letter also explains ‘that full general medical services will continue to be provided from all three sites.”
Less than a year ago, Roslea GP surgery was closed and amalgamated with Newtownbutler and Lisnaskea surgery into Maple Healthcare.
Local Councillor Bernice Swift said she was stunned by the announcement, adding that “there are many probable outstanding questions to be fully answered in terms of accessibility to health care services.”
“Residents of rural areas are already experiencing disadvantage and I want to be fully assured that the written promise provided by Cuilcagh Medical Practice, where patients will continue to receive high quality services in current locations will most definitely provide us with the necessary reassurance and confidence that services will continue.”
Donal O’Cofaigh, spokesman for Fermanagh Save Our Services said ‘there must be real concerns now about the long-term sustainability of all three surgeries.’
“This is very concerning news for the communities across West Fermanagh.
“It is the latest threat to GP services in the county and will effectively reduce by two the number of practices in the county.
Where there was such an amalgamation in east Fermanagh – the surgery in Roslea closed and that in Newtownbutler is due to close as soon as a new centre is built in Lisnaskea.”
“Fermanagh had eighteen practices several years ago, the BMA forecasts that we will be lucky to end up with four or five in the next couple of years.
“The adverse impact of such rationing of primary care provision is obviously very serious and exacerbated by our rurality and the fact that public transport provision here is inadequate.
“The experience in East Fermanagh has been that closure of practices has resulted in a dramatic deterioration in the ability to access a doctor with long waits for appointments.”
Posted: 6:37 pm March 24, 2018