The practice applied on 11 March 2020 to close its branch surgery at the Ashton Centre and relocate all its medical services to its Andersonstown site.
The branch surgery operated Monday to Friday (with a half day closure on Thursday), a GP or nurse was not always on site and it was increasingly challenging for the small practice team to provide the full range of services safely across both sites.
The facilities at Ashton are described as small with one consultation room and one treatment room with no room for expansion of the premises. Additional services such as physiotherapy, mental health worker and social worker could not be accommodated on site.
The coronavirus pandemic changed the way practices delivered services to meet social distancing regulations and to prevent the spread of infection and as a result of this the building and therefore the branch surgery was closed on a temporary basis on 20 March 2020.
In order for the HSCB to make an informed decision on whether the branch should be closed or remain open a process was undertaken which included a Patient survey as a means of establishing the impact any closure of the branch would have on its patients.
Based on the survey’s findings, the Board agreed to close the Ashton Centre branch from 31 August 2021 in the interest of treatment quality and patient safety.
Patients who used the Ashton Centre branch surgery remain a patient of Willow Medical Practice.
However, if patients so wished they could register and avail of one of seven alternative GP practices located within 0.4 miles of the Ashton Centre and with direct bus routes.
The HSCB sought and received reassurance from the practice that they would do everything possible to minimise the impact on patients including liaising with North Belfast pharmacies regarding prescription collection.
HSCB can advise that within the immediate North Belfast and greater Belfast area, there continues to be good access to GP services for all residents.
The HSCB received notice from Dr Chu, Ravenbank Surgery that she would resign from her General Medical Services Contract with effect from 31 March 2020.
HSCB officers held several meetings with Dr Chu and staff at the practice and been in contact with thirteen local GP practices advising of Dr Chu’s resignation and the handing back of her General Medical Services Contract.
HSCB undertook a recruitment process seeking a new contractor for the 1,550 registered patients. However no expressions of interest were received and Ravenbank Surgery closed on the 31 March 2020.
The priority for the HSCB was to ensure a safe re-allocation of all the practices patients and to accommodate the different capacity levels of local GP practices.
Ravenbank Surgery patients living within the practice area were allocated to one of the13 local GP practices and all 13 practices agreed their allocation of patients.
Registered patients that lived outside the practice boundary were advised to register with a new GP practice of their choice local to their home and HSCB provided guidance on how to do this.
HSCB issued to each registered patient of Ravenbank Surgery a letter advising of their allocation to one of the thirteen GP practices.
Patients have a right to choose their own GP practice. However, to maintain some stability for the GP practices affected by this large movement of patients, the HSCB asked patients to remain registered with their new practice until 31st May 2020.Thereafter patients may choose to remain with the new practice or register with another practice of your choice.
Dr Chu provided GP services to all registered patients until 31 March 2020.
Ballymena Family Practice – Change of contractor
Following the retirement of Dr G Wright a single handed GP at Ballymena Family Practice, the Health and Social Care Board appointed a new contractor (Dr P Loughrey) to take over the provision of General Medical Services at the practice, with effect from 1 February 2021.
From 1 July 2021, Dr Jadczak’s and Dr Mercer and Dr Chestnutt’s practice in Kilkeel amalgamated. The new practice is known as Kilkeel Medical Practice. The clinicians of the new practice are Dr Norbert Jadczak, Dr Emma Chestnutt and Nurse Practitioner Marika Nesbit. Dr Mercer retired on 30 June 2021.
Devenish Medical Practice – Fermanagh
On 31 March 2021 Dr Johannes Guette, a single-handed practitioner, Devenish Medical Practice, retired from General Practice.
Dr Geoff Mulligan took over the new contract for the provision of General Medical Services in Devenish practice with effect from 1 April 2021.
Updated June 2021