Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board has assured patients in Glenarm that they will have a GP and do not have to worry about their healthcare needs. This assurance comes after Anne McKillop, who is associated with the Glenarm-based practice of retiring GP Dr. Benny Glover, said that GPs in Larne had not said anything as yet about taking on the patients of the retiring GP. It appears that these patients will not have access to a GP by the end of the month, stated McKillop.
Dr. Glover, from Glenarm, will be retiring at the end of March 2017. This has caused panic among his patients. An open letter signed by every Larne GP stated that they were worried about being assigned some of Dr. Glover’s patients. These GPs felt that taking on more patients would adversely affect the services that they provide to their existing patients.
The open letter also stated that Larne GPs considered patient safety and service highly, and they were ready to have a discussion so that all patients benefit in a similar manner.
Nearly 1,300 patients of Dr. Glover have been taken on by Cushendall’s Glens of Antrim Medical Centre in Carnlough. However, the fate of the remaining 700 patients is not known. It is expected that they will be reassigned to GPs in Larne.
While Larne GPs did say that they had received a letter informing them of the number of patients being assigned to each practice, the Board had not invited further discussion, and nothing has been agreed.
Nonetheless, the Board has emphatically stated that all patients from Glenarm will have a GP by the end of the month. A Board spokesperson referred to the General Medical Services Contracts Regulations, which state that a medical contractor can accept patients in their list of patients even if the new patients are not from the practice area or are included in the list of patients of another medical contractor.