Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Lauren Harte

Leading GP expresses sadness and frustration over closure of North Belfast medical practice

A leading GP has warned of the urgent need to stabilise general practice in Northern Ireland or the region will continue to see the closure of more surgeries.

Dr Alan Stout, BMA NI GP committee chair, was speaking following the announcement that the partners of Grove Medical Practice in North Belfast will be unable to provide doctor services from the end of this year.

The Department of Health has said work is underway to find new GPs to take over at the medial practice on York Road after it was confirmed that its current partners will no longer be providing GP services from 31 December.

Read more: Work underway to find new GPs to take over North Belfast medical practice

The Department said it will be advertising for new GPs to take over this contract from 1 January 2023 and is advising patients to continue to contact Grove Medical Practice as normal.

Dr Stout said: “Grove’s GPs and its dedicated staff have been providing general practice services to patients in the heart of North Belfast for many years and under immense, growing pressures.

“This decision to close has not been taken lightly by the partners and is the absolute last resort. It is very sad and frustrating to see yet another GP practice close in Northern Ireland despite the best efforts of partners to maintain services in the face of mounting pressures on primary care.”

He added: “The most recent stats on general medical services here show that there are now fewer practices across Northern Ireland, yet they are having to deal with growing numbers of patients.

“This is simply unsustainable and will lead to more and more GP partners being forced into making the very difficult decision to cease services. This then has a knock-on effect on neighbouring practice patient lists and forces the most sick and vulnerable in our communities to travel further for care.”

“We urgently need to stabilise general practice or we will continue to see such closures. That means a faster roll out of the MDTs, continued increase in GP training numbers, an indemnity solution for Northern Ireland to match the rest of the UK and a significant investment in our premises, many of which are substandard.”

SDLP North Belfast Councillor Carl Whyte said that the closure is an alarming development that will cause significant disruption for patients and underscores the need to invest in GP services.

Cllr Whyte said: “Grove Medical Practice has served thousands of people in North Belfast. The closure of the practice will cause significant disruption for patients, particularly older members of our community, and underscores the urgent need for investment in GP services.

“It should be an incredibly worrying sign that a practice in Belfast with a number of GPs and practice nurses is closing as a result of increased demand, staffing shortages and a lack of investment from the Department of Health.

“North Belfast is an area already under pressure when it comes to access to a GP. This news will only make the situation worse. I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to discuss service provision and access in North Belfast.

“It is critical that the Department of Health and the Health Minister get the situation under control so that local people can access GP services when needed.”

Last month, Health Minister Robin Swann published a review into general surgery provision in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said the plan to reconfigure how surgeries are carried out here will deliver safer and more consistent care for patients.

The review, which was led by consultant surgeon Professor Mark Taylor, has produced a new set of standards that hospitals will be required to meet to continue to provide emergency and planned general surgeries.

The plan envisages greater separation of emergency and elective surgery provision, with different hospitals specialising in the different services. The exercise is part of the wider plan to reshape health delivery in Northern Ireland.


For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here. To sign up to our FREE newsletters, see here.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.