SETTING SIGHTS ON NEW SURGERY

A NEW, purpose-built GPs’ surgery could be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to the regenerative shot in the arm needed in Dromore town centre.

That’s according to one Dromore resident who contacted The Leader this week to suggest campaigners should add a new surgery to their list of goals.

The local woman was at pains to point out she meant absolutely no criticism of local doctors or the service they provided; just the opposite.

“This is not a slight on the quality of the GPs,” she said. “There has been a lot of investment in the surgery and the doctors make the very most of what they have, but the site has never been ideal - it has no parking and access is a problem - and now, 20 years on, I would say the population of Dromore has at least doubled, but it’s still the same surgery.

“If anything, the doctors are doing a brilliant job in coping with so many more patients, but it’s a small surgery and it just seems so very busy; the doctors are doing a sterling job but I don’t think they have the space or the manpower to keep meeting the demand.”

The woman, who has lived in Dromore “on and off” for 20 years, suggested regeneration campaigners might set their sights on securing a new surgery for a vacant town-centre site.

“I just couldn’t help but wonder if, in terms of regenerating the town centre, that was something that could be looked at, something that people might be receptive to,” she said.

“The practice we have works, and serves the town well; it’s still very good, but if it was expanded on a different site the district nurses and health visitors at the clinic, which is small too, could be brought under the one roof in a multi-purpose building.

The notion is not, in fact, a new one.

Dr. Colin Kenny explained that a combined ‘Community Care and Treatment Centre’, housing local doctors and other healthcare professionals, and similar to a comparatively new facility in Portadown, was planned for Dromore several years ago, with the Central Primary School site - long since due to have been vacated in favour of a planned new school - earmarked as a possible home.

Plans were progressed but ran aground somewhere along the line that led to today’s economic crisis.

Dr. Kenny indicated any move towards a new facility would have to be government-led and funded, and, while insisting the existing surgery remained fit for purpose, he said local GPs would champion such a centre.

“We would certainly have favoured that,” he said. “We have no objections to it and would not be standing in the way of it.

“Though we built the current surgery in 1993, it is still very much fit for purpose; every room is used every day, but we would certainly support a Community Care and Treatment Centre as a good idea.”

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who, as Dromore Partnership chairman recently outlined some of the group’s hopes and aims for 2012, said a new centre was a worthy goal for the future.

“One of the key improvements that the Partnership and the agencies it works with would like to see is the improvement of facilities and public services in the Dromore area,” he said. “The suggestion that healthcare facilities might be brought together in one modern facility is a very valid suggestion and one I would certainly support.

“Of course it is vital that GPs and other healthcare professionals have input into any such development and that there is proper public consultation, but certainly the pattern elsewhere is to bring primary healthcare facilities together and this is something I believe would be of benefit to the community in Dromore.

“It’s a proposal I will be happy to work to try and achieve in future.”