The design plans for the new £18.5million Lisnaskea Health Centre will be completed by November this year.
Health Minister Robin Swann – in response to a question from Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA Aine Murphy – stated that the Western Trust has advised that the design work for the new building that will be on the site of the old High School, will be ready in two months time.
Ms Murphy welcomed the Minister’s announcement and urged the DUP to return to the Executive so that further funding allocated for Health care can be invested.
She said: “I welcome the response from the Minister. The people of Lisnaskea and surrounding areas have waited a long time for this project and are adamant that no further delays hinder its progress.
“Everyone deserves access to high quality medical care and the completion of the Lisnaskea Health Centre will go a long way to securing this for years to come.
“I further call on the DUP to commit to re-establishing an Executive so that we can start to fix the problems that exist in our health care system and invest the additional £1billion that Finance Minister Conor Murphy has allocated to health.”
However, Cllr Sheamus Greene said that progress on the new centre has been too slow for Lisnaskea residents given this was first proposed 17 years ago and that patients at the practice are struggling to get appointments.
He said: “This was first mentioned seventeen years ago and not a sod has been dug up. The wheels of government have often turned slowly but this is beyond ridiculous because the people of this area are crying out for proper health provision.
“The trouble is, the health centre can’t attract doctors because of the state that the present health centre is in. It wasn’t too long that there were eight doctors there. Now they’re down to four – and that’s after having taken on the whole of Roslea’s patients as well.
“As I said to the Council, I suspect that if the same thing had been proposed for Belfast, Bangor or Lisburn, I would guarantee that a new health centre would have been built long ago.
“Lisnaskea’s current health centre is bursting at the seams with patients with many unable to get appointments. Some patients have moved – or tried to move – to other practices which has added to the burden of those practices.
“Nobody seems to give a damn anymore about any of this. We have these announcements made but that’s all they are. Just hot air as far as I’m concerned. The Assembly seems to be one for ‘Greater Belfast’ with the rest of us being an afterthought.”
In response to Cllr Greene’s comments, the Department of Health stated that 121 new training places for GPs are available each year and that Ulster University’s Medical School places significant emphasis on primary care placements, with a high concentration of clinical placements in rural settings in the west.
A spokesperson said: “The Department has continued to invest in our GP workforce and has increased the number of GP trainees by over 70 per cent from 2015 levels. There are presently 121 new training places available for GPs each year. Looking forward, there may be a need for even more GPs to be trained.
“The Graduate Entry Programme at the Ulster University’s Medical School is a significant development in the provision of medical education in Northern Ireland. The curriculum places an emphasis on primary care placements, with a high concentration of clinical placements in rural settings in the west.”
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