Doctors resign.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

BOTH doctors operating from Rathfriland's Castlewellan Road practice have resigned, writes Laura Barr.

However, practice manager Judy Shortt has reassured patients that any decision taken over the Dr Sloan and Partner GP Practice will not "affect the care of our patients in any way and no patient will be left without a GP".

"A decision will be in place before the end of July and the Board will be communicating this to the patients," she said.

The practice's two GPs Dr Sloan and Dr Irwin have resigned with effect from the end of July.

The practice, with approximately 2,700 patients, has been meeting with the Health and Social Care Board over the situation.

Ms Shortt explained: "We are all already aware that GPs have come under increasing pressures over the last year in particular with financial strains and an increasing workload to manage and this has had an impact on primary care.

"The resignation of both Dr Sloan and Dr Irwin has been confirmed and of course there is a general feeling of sadness and immense regret amongst everyone and I speak on behalf of all the staff when I say we will be sorry to lose both GPs."

Dr Sloan has been a serving GP at the practice for the last 15 years while Dr Irwin joined in April 2015.

The practice manager added: "Locum doctors are difficult to get, not only for our surgery but right across Northern Ireland. Unfortunately with the prices in the practice it was becoming no longer sustainable for the doctors to continue and it got to the point where they could no longer do any more.

"The decision on what will happen following the resignations is currently a matter being dealt with by the Board but they have assured us that the decision made will not affect the care of our patients in any way and no patient will be left without a GP.

"A decision will be in place before the end of July and the Board will be communicating this to the patients of the surgery."

Mournes Councillor Jill Macauley (UUP) is requesting a meeting along with party colleagues to "seek assurances" from the board on the resignations.

Councillor Macauley, a patient of Dr Sloan's surgery, said it was "very regrettable" that the two GPs are leaving and that they have "served the area well".

"I am relieved to hear that the Board has confirmed that the decision will not affect patient care as the surgery includes patients from the two council areas of Newry, Mourne and Down and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area councils.

"I know that the surgery has patients from Moneyslane, Ballyroney, Kilcoo and Hilltown and a large number of people use this surgery as it is easily accessible from the Castlewellan Road.

"People have been contacting me about this issue, they are feeling unnerved and rightly so. However, on a personal level I cannot complain about the care both myself and my family have received over the years with the surgery."

Councillor Macauley added: "I am hopeful that the Board will meet with myself and party colleagues to hear our concerns on this issue which will affect so many people in Rathfriland and the surrounding areas."


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