Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone GP surgery facing closure due to doctor shortage

A GP surgery in Dungannon may be forced to close as it cannot attract new doctors

A GP surgery in Co Tyrone with 9,000 patients on its books is facing threat of closure due to a workforce shortage.

It is understood that three doctors based at Northland surgery in Dungannon have served notice to the Health and Social Care Board that they will be withdrawing their contract, meaning the practice will have to shut in just over five months' time.

Two senior GPs retired from the surgery at the beginning of the year and have not been replaced, despite recruitment efforts.

In January, Murty's surgery in the town was forced to shut following the retirement of a doctor, with many patients transferring to other practices.

While the Department of Health in Northern Ireland announced an £8m investment for GP services in June, the British Medical Association has repeatedly pointed to the pressures they are facing – with the oldest GP workforce in the NHS and severe difficulties in recruiting new trainees.

Increased demands, staff shortages and funding problems have forced some rural GP surgeries to shut and led to spiralling patient delays as GPs complain of 'burnout' with significant caseloads.

In a statement to the BBC, Northland surgery said the remaining doctors felt they could no longer offer a safe service to patients.

"With a growing list size, as patients continue to be allocated, and an increasing workload, we are no longer able to offer a safe and satisfactory service to patients," it said.

"We have therefore given the Health Board the statutory six months' notice that we will be withdrawing from our contract on March 31 2019."

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