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Australian living and working in Co Armagh forced to fly back home to see doctor

International health expert unable to register with GP practice

An Australian with a rare lung condition flew home to see a GP because he cannot get registered with a practice in Co Armagh.

Twenty-nine-year-old Jason Calvert has been trying to register with a doctor’s practice in Portadown since last year.

Despite living and working in the area, he says he has essentially been left in limbo.

Mr Calvert, originally from Melbourne, says he has been put on a waiting list, but he has not been provided with a letter of refusal, which would allow him to register with someone else.

He flew home in January for treatment and was able to see a doctor, have blood taken for testing and a chest X-ray – and all of that within 24 hours of booking an online appointment.

GP cover has been in the spotlight in Portadown for some time with over-subscribed practices.

Mr Calvert has now been left in the position that he will have to present himself to A&E – something which he does not want to do – if he falls ill again.

He told the Irish News: “The irony is that I have private health insurance through work but I can’t get anything done because I need a GP referral.

“I had to go to A&E last year which – as someone who studies health systems – I hated doing, as it wasn’t the right place for me to go.

“I was given steroid medication by a Melbourne GP in January but, as of now, if I have no GP and if I become ill again, have no option but to go back to A&E.”

“Despite making a major contribution to the Northern Irish economy – and paying a huge amount of tax to the government – I am unable to access basic GP services in my area,” he added.

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