Fear for future of Rathfriland Health Centre

POLITICIANS have expressed concern for the future of a GP surgery in Rathfriland, after it confirmed it will be handing back its contract to the Department of Health.
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In a statement on social media, the Dr Wade and Toner practice, based at Rathfriland Health Centre, informed patients that it will officially hand back the contract on August 31.

The post read: "This difficult decision has been taken with a heavy heart. The current model for Primary Care is not sustainable for every practice.

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“It is business as usual at present, and we will keep patients informed as we know more.”

Patients have been reassured Rathfriland Health Centre is operating as normal.Patients have been reassured Rathfriland Health Centre is operating as normal.
Patients have been reassured Rathfriland Health Centre is operating as normal.

The announcement has left locals in the town and surrounding areas wondering what the future holds for the practice.

However, the announcement impacts only one of three GP partnerships operating from the surgery, the other two remain unaffected.

The Department of Health has assured patients it has processes in place to secure alternative arrangements.

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It also affirmed its commitment to ensuring the surgery remains open on a long-term basis.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The practices will continue to deliver GP services and patients do not need to take any action.

"We will be writing out to all practice patients to keep them informed."

DUP Cllr Ian Wilson has described the news as “shocking”.

“It is worrying that these two well respected Doctors have decided to hand back their GP contracts,” he said.

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“The patients that use this practice are rightly concerned about what way they will be left after August.

“I will be lobbying the department that a proper service is maintained for the residents of Rathfriland.”

Meanwhile, UUP Alderman Glenn Barr has urged the department to find a speedy solution.

He said: "The closure of any healthcare facility warrants attention, and efforts should be made to appoint a successor before the closure date to minimise disruption to patient services.

"Accessible and dependable healthcare services are the fabric of our community.”

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