Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist East Antrim Assembly candidate, has accused successive DUP and Sinn Fein health ministers of failing to invest in primary health care in East Antrim. Commenting on news that no replacement has been found to replace retiring GP Dr Benny Glover in the East Antrim coastal village of Glenarm, Roy Beggs said:
“I share the concern in the Glenarm and Carnlough area about the de facto closure of the Antrim Coast Medical Practice in Glenarm. I understand that patients are to be transferred to GP practices as far apart as Broughshane, Cushendall and Larne. This at a time when health care in the Larne area has been further depleted with the withdrawal of X-ray services at the Moyle Hospital.
“I have lobbied both the Health Minister and the Health and Social Care Board regarding GP services in Glenarm and Carnlough and have supported the concept of an outreach GP surgery as a basic and essential requirement. The Board has failed to plan ahead by providing investment over the years to create an independent and attractive location to encourage a GP practice to take over the Antrim Coast Medical Practice. Despite Dr Glover working well beyond the normal retirement age, there has also been failure by the authorities to prepare by ensuring sufficient GP’s are trained to meet demand.”
“Whilst specialism is resulting in some health centralisation, there has been a failure by the current Sinn Fein and the previous DUP Health Ministers to invest in local Primary GP health care. As a result of their failing to work in partnership, the investment in local primary healthcare has not occurred. Instead, we have only seen further closures of health facilities provided in the Larne and Glenarm area.
“We have also learnt the X-ray service at the Moyle Hospital in Larne has closed temporarily with no guarantee that it will re-open. Over the years, hospitals in Carrickfergus and Larne have closed along with the Minor Injury Unit at Whiteabbey. However, we have not received significant investment in primary health care in Larne, Carrickfergus or Newtownabbey to provide alternative services and to limit the pressures on our A&E departments. This is an area that has been talked about by the current Sinn Fein Health Minister and the previous DUP Health Minsters, but they have failed to deliver. The Ulster Unionist Party is committed to delivering increasing primary health care funding and are asking for support to make this happen.”
Local Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow, herself a patient in the Antrim Coast Medical Practice, said:
“The isolated rural community in the Glenarm and Carnlough area is being over looked. The option of having to travel to Cushendall, Broughshane and Larne will be difficult, if not impossible for many with the limited bus service in the area. Even at this late stage I would call on the Health Minister to ensure that funding is provided for a local base for a GP practice so that surgeries can take place locally in Glenarm, even on an outreach basis”.