The Health and Social Care Board has met with GP practices in the Glenarm area in a bid to secure GP services for the patients of Dr Benedict Glover, who is due to retire on March 31.
Having received no applications to replace Dr Glover, who is stepping down after 50 years of service at the Antrim Coast Medical Practice, the HSCB is now consulting with neighbouring practices in an effort to provide cover in Glenarm.
East Antrim UUP representative Roy Beggs stated: “Consultation with these practices is continuing and the Board will keep elected representatives and patients appraised of the situation.
“Dr Glover continues to provide GP services to patients of Antrim Coast Medical Practice and patients are encouraged to remain registered with this practice.
“It is of concern that there are still no new arrangements for GP services as of yet, for the Antrim Coast Medical Practice patients.”
Mr Beggs said that local people’s concerns would be “heightened” by the withdrawal of a contractor who had been appointed by the HSCB to offer services in the Bannview Practice, Portadown.
“It is essential that the Primary Health care services provided by GP continues to be available to patients from Glenarm and Carnlough, and I have written to the Health Minister for further clarity on the situation at Antrim Coast Medical Practise,” he continued.
“It is regrettable that Ministers, rather than concentrate their efforts in providing local GP Health services and indeed set the budget for 2017/18 with additional resources to deal with pressures on GPs and the unacceptable waiting lists, have decided NI is heading for an election.”
Alliance representative Stewart Dickson added: “I am extremely concerned for the patients in Antrim Coastal Practice.
“I have nothing but the utmost admiration for Dr Glover for the work he has done single-handedly but in today’s age of medical science to expect one GP to work on their own is very difficult and unrealistic, and on top of that, the best solution that the Health and Social Care Board has is to ask an already over-burdened practice to take on this extra burden.”
Dr Glover, who has worked at the Antrim Coast Medical Practice in Glenarm since 1966, had previously told the Times that he was “worried” for his patients’ future care provision, and described the shortage of GPs in Northern Ireland as having reached “crisis point.”