THE Western Trust did not take over the running of Roslea GP surgery as there was no need to, according to the Department of Health (DoH).
Since the surgery closed in 2017, following the retirement of Dr Donal Collins, residents of the border village have had to make a 35-mile round trip to Lisnaskea to see a doctor.
Questions have been asked in recent times as to why the Western Trust could not have taken over the practice until a new GP was found, like it has now done at Trillick and Dromore practice, which also faced closure after the departure of its resident GP.
Indeed, Roslea residents recently spoke out on how they felt they were being unfairly treated compared to patients in the Tyrone areas.
The DoH, which has responsibility for the running of GP practices rather than local health trusts, has now attempted to explain why it did not request the Western Trust take over the practice.
Essentially, the DoH said there was no need to seek Trust intervention because the Roslea practice had amalgamated with Maple Healthcare in Lisnaskea.
In a letter to the local Council, in response to a query from the Council as to why the Trust did not take on the Roslea contract, DoH permanent secretary Peter May said the department had widely advertised the contract for GP services in Roslea following Dr Collins’ retirement, but there had been no applicants.
“At that stage the DoH was also aware of pending planned retirements at two other single-handed GP practices in the area,” he said, referring to the retirement of Dr Leary in Lisnaskea and Dr Devlin in Newtownbutler, both in 2017.
“Following negotiations with Maple Group Practice in Lisnaskea, a new practice, Maple Healthcare, was formed in April 2017. This newly formed practice was as a result of Maple Group Practice amalgamating with Roslea Surgery, Newtownbutler Surgery, and Dr Leary, Lisnaskea.”
Mr May said the situation in Trillick and Dromore had been similar, and the DoH had again widely advertised the contract, but a new contractor had not been found. He said, like in Roslea, the DoH approached neighbouring practices with a view to amalgamation, like in Lisnaskea, however none expressed an interest, which is why the department approached the Trust.
The Trust has agreed to take on the contract until the end of March 2023, and in the meantime the DoH will continue to advertise and attempt to secure new GPs to take on the General Medical Services (GMS) contract for the area.
“In summary, the DoH is responsible fore ensuring GMS are provided to all patients in Northern Ireland,” Mr May concluded.
“When a single-handed GP terminates his/her contract with the DoH, the DoH explores various options in order to secure a GMS contractor.
“Where the DoH is unable to secure a new GP contractor, or where a neighbouring practice is unable to take on the contract, it is only at this stage that the local Trust would be approached.”
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