Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

SDLP discuss Crossmaglen health services with HSCB officials

Local SDLP politicians, Dominic Bradley MLA and Councillor Geraldine Donnelly, recently met with Dr Sloan Harper (Director of Integrated Care) and Dr Margaret O’Brien (Head of General Medical Services) of the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in Belfast in relation to the provision of health services in Crossmaglen.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Bradley described it as “positive” and says he will continue to engage with the HSCB “as we seek to ensure permanent and sustainable solution to the crises facing GP services in Crossmaglen”.

Mr Bradley advised the meeting was just one of a number of similar events his party has scheduled across the Health Service to raise concerns about front line health services in South Armagh, including the need for more support for GP services across South Armagh, ambulance response times, Out of Hours GP services as well as the impact on Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

“Every day there seems to be a different crisis in our health service, from pressures in the emergency departments, to the out of hours service and now many local GP surgeries across the north are experiencing increasing pressures.  We need to be training 90 GPs each year and yet our system only produced 44 last year; we need to see urgent action at ministerial level to plan for the future before it’s too late.  Better workforce planning and investment in frontline services has to be an urgent priority for the Northern Ireland Executive,” he said.

Councillor Geraldine Donnelly says there is deep anger and frustration in the local community in Crossmaglen that things have reached this point.

“They are deeply appreciative of the care offered by both GP surgeries in Crossmaglen and see the strain the doctors and practice nurses are working under.  They want the health service and its senior management to step up and support this vital front line service in this community,” she said.

‘This is a strong community and all we want is the same access to health services as other communities.  Dr Patrick Fee and Dr Margaret Fee are extremely professional, their commitment to this community is second to none and often goes above and beyond the call of duty.  We need the Health and Social Care Board, the Southern Trust, and the Ambulance Service, to work collectively with the community to ensure a sustainable solution is found to the pressures currently experienced by the health services in this area.”