Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Jo-Anne Dobson has rubbished claims from DUP candidate Carla Lockart that Banbridge could be set for a GP out-of-hours service.
Cllr Lockhart claimed last week that she would be be lobbying hard for a new out of hours service and had started the initial contact with Health Minister Simon Hamilton’s office.
But Mrs Dobson said she tabled an Assembly Written Question to Simon Hamilton last October asking him about an out-of-hours service in Banbridge Health Centre and was told there were no plans to provide it.
Mrs Dobson said: “As far back as last October I asked the Health Minister Simon Hamilton, through an Assembly Written Question, what work had been undertaken to investigate how GP out-of-hours services could operate from the Banbridge Health Village.
“Disappointingly, in his response of 23 March, which incidentally took five months, the Health Minister Simon Hamilton confirms that he currently has no plans to establish a new GP out-of-hour service from the Banbridge Health Village.
“So many local families have been affected by the current crisis in our Health Service, with one in five of the Northern Ireland population on a hospital waiting list.
“General Practice has not been immune as we have major recruitment issues amongst the GP Workforce which need to be urgently addressed at a time of increasing workload for our healthcare professionals. Looking to the future I fully support a Banbridge-based out-of-hours service and will, if re-elected be taking this forward once again with the new Health Minister whoever he or she may be in the interests of everyone in Banbridge.”
When contacted by the Leader last week a spokesperson for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety said: “While there are no current plans to provide GP out of hours services from a base in Banbridge, the Health and Social Care Board will continue to consider the range and location of services required that will best meet the needs of people living in the Southern area, including those in and around Banbridge.”