A south Armagh GP – who offered his resignation amid concerns he would not be able to care for all of his patients after another doctor left – has agreed to stay in the post.
And locum cover is to be sought in the meantime to assist Dr Pat Fee from September 1 until December 31.
The decision by Dr Fee to offer his resignation led to a concerted community campaign of support and to try and ensure adequate medical cover in Crossmaglen.
As Armagh I reported on Sunday, a Facebook page – Save Rathkeeland House Surgery – was set up.
Politicians in the area pledged their support.
The Health and Social Care Board released a statement this afternoon: “The board welcomes the discussions with the practice this week and looks forward to an early meeting with the practice in order to continue to provide general medical services to the local community in Crossmaglen.
“The board is very aware of the concerns that have been raised recently over the provision of GP services in the Crossmaglen area and would like to emphasise that it is firmly committed to ensuring that local patients and service users in the area continue to have timely access to safe, high quality primary care services close to home.”
The Save Rathkeeland campaign took to Facebook to welcome the news.
“Following our extensive campaign the Health Board has been in contact with Dr Fee today to offer assistance to Rathkeeland House Surgery with its recruitment process to ensure additional GP support is provided to the practice on a permanent basis,” campaigners report.
“Dr Fee has advised the Board that he is willing to resume his position as contractor on behalf of his Rathkeeland Surgery and to continue as employer of the practice staff. This is excellent news for us as staff and patients.
“However our community has seen the departure of three GPs over a three year period and the retirement of an excellent Treatment Room Nurse that has not yet been replaced so our public meeting is going ahead as planned.
“Please continue to show your support as these issues still need to be resolved.
“A representative from Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety has agreed to attend along with invited speakers.”
Campaigners have expressed their “huge appreciation and thanks to all our patients, colleagues and friends for your phenomenal support”.
They are urging all to come along to the meeting this Thursday night at 7.30pm in Crossmaglen Community Centre.
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