Petition set up to save GP surgery service in Derry following day of action

A Derry trade unionist has urged people to back a campaign petition to safeguard Racecourse Medical Practice in Shantallow Health Centre.

People Before Profit representative Damien Doherty spoke after organising a Day of Action at the weekend.

Last week it emerged that the busy Derry GP practice is set to close unless new arrangements can be put in place between now and June.

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Local political representatives have said new management must be found for the Racecourse Medical Group after the practice handed back its contract for the delivery of services to the Department of Health.

People Before Profit representative Damien Doherty with Derry & Strabane Councillor Maeve O'Neill.

Mr Doherty said: "We delivered hundreds of leaflets to residents around the area making them aware of the threat to GP services at the Racecourse Medical Practice and urging them to support the campaign to make sure they are maintained.

"We spoke to many residents registered with the GP surgery there who didn't know there was an issue. Everyone was fully supportive of the Western Trust stepping in if necessary.

"We've spoken to GP surgery workers to make sure their rights are properly protected

"We encouraged residents and workers to back any protests and circulate the petition supporting the maintenance of GP Services.

"We share the alarm many feel for the future of the GP surgery in Racecourse Medical Practice.

"It's vital GP services are protected and kept local for elderly and vulnerable patients in the vicinity.

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"It's essential GP services are secured beyond the next 6 months as a strong primary care service for the area is vital.

"The Department of Health must do all it can to make sure GP services are maintained here and this includes the Western Trust stepping in if necessary.”

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Racecourse GP practice to close unless new arrangements in place by June

Mr Doherty added: "The strain many GP services are under from rising bills and too few primary care doctors is well documented, as is the frustration many have expressed at the lack of access.

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"The collapse of GP services in some areas contributing to overwhelmed emergency departments isn't sustainable or acceptable.

"The campaign to save our health service and develop more sustainable frontline GP services is now urgent."

The Defend GP Services at Racecourse Medical petition can be accessed via www.change.org/p/save-gp-services-in-racecourse-medical-centre

The Department said last week that it could confirm that Racecourse Practice, in Shantallow, has handed back its contract to deliver GP services.

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“We want to reassure patients that Racecourse Practice will continue to retain the contract to deliver GP services for the next six months.

“We will now begin a recruitment process to put new arrangements in place to deliver GP services.

Patients at the practice do not need to take any action. They should continue to contact the Practice as normal.”

“We will be writing out to all practice patients to keep them informed as this process begins,” a spokesperson said.