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Three Northern Irish practices at risk due to GP shortage

Three practices in Northern Ireland are in danger of closure after the Government has been unable to find providers to take them over, despite a £7m increase in GP contractual funding.

The Northern Ireland Health & Social Board is advertising for a provider to take over two surgeries, the Silverbirch Medical practice in Bangor and Roslea Medical Practice in Enniskillen, which are in danger of closing due to recruitment problems.

It follows the board advertising for a GP who was willing to take over a different practice in March – the Rathkeeland House surgery in Crossmaglen.

In total, 8,000 patients are registered with the three practices.

The NIHSB told the Belfast Telegraph: ‘We continues to take all necessary steps to ensure that services continue to be provided to the population of Northern Ireland’

Dr Patrick Fee, a GP at Rathkeeland House, said he does not ’feel he can deliver a safe service due to the number of patients he is responsible for’.

Dr Brian Patterson, a member of the task force working to help struggling GP surgeries, said: ‘Sadly, I can’t magic up trained GPs, nor folk who want to run practices, as they are small business.

’These are short-term issues but in the long term the model of general practice will have to change to survive.’