Northern Ireland

Reprieve for north Belfast's Flax Medical Centre as new contractor found

A protest against the potential closure of Flax Medical Centre in November. Picture from Twitter
A protest against the potential closure of Flax Medical Centre in November. Picture from Twitter

AN under-threat GP practice in north Belfast has been saved following the appointment of a new contractor.

The Department of Health yesterday confirmed that GP services to patients of Flax Medical Centre will continue in the new year.

There was widespread public outcry when the centre was threatened with closure after the practice's current operator returned their contract to the Department of Health.

The new contractor is Oldpark Group Practice, which will assume control of the centre on January 1.

From January 16, both Oldpark Group Practice and Flax Medical Centre will relocate to new purpose built premises at Everton Centre, and be renamed Eden Park Medical Practice.

Patients of Flax Medical Centre will automatically be registered with the new practice so need not take any action.

They will receive a letter in the coming days confirming details of their new GP practice.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said the prospect of having to find a new GP practice had "caused understandable anxiety for many".

“I believe that the outpouring support for the retention of this important community service will have played no small part in encouraging the new contractor to express their interest in taking over the practice," he said.

"There is clearly a massive need for GP provision in the Ardoyne area and the idea of trying to move thousands of patients to other practices in the current climate, with our health service already under huge pressure doesn’t bear thinking about."