SDLP councillor Eugene Reid has expressed his concern over the potential closures of two GP surgeries in the Ballymena area.
Around 7,000 patients will be affected by the closure of the surgeries based at the Ballymena Health and Care Centre.
Councillor Reid said that every effort must be made to find GPs to take over the contracts and avert the closure of the surgeries.
Councillor Reid said:
“The news that these practices have handed back their contracts will rightly cause concern for people across Ballymena and the wider area who rely on them for medical treatment. The thought of 7,000 people trying to find a new practice at a time when our health service is under extreme pressure doesn’t bear thinking about and the Department of Health must do everything in their power to find new doctors to take over these surgeries and protect services for patients.
“People in this community have seen many vital services leave this area over the years and they are angry at the prospect of losing more. Before it opened, we were promised that the Ballymena Health and Care Centre would make a real difference to the lives of people here, providing a variety of on-site treatments and removing the need to travel elsewhere in many instances, now two of the GP surgeries based there face an uncertain future.
“The issues we are experiencing in Ballymena are being replicated right across the North. Due to a lack of proper workforce planning and the failure to recruit and train enough GPs we are seeing many practices left in a similar situation when existing GPs retire or leave due to the demands being placed on them. Our health service is on its knees due to a failure to implement much needed reform and people everywhere are suffering. I will do everything in my power to protect local services, but what we really need are functioning institutions at Stormont to make the necessary changes to that everyone can access healthcare when they need it.”