the allocated patients from Dr Sloan & Partners GP Practice officially became patients of the Rathfriland Health Centre last Wednesday (1 August).
Dr John Shannon confirmed that so far the health centre on John Street has not been “overwhelmed” by the increase in numbers but “it is early days.”
Dr Sloan & Partners GP Surgery on the Castlewellan Road closed at the end of July.
Patients received letters last month advising them of where they were being allocated GP services provided by the three doctors in the Health Centre or surgeries in Ballyward, Banbridge, Loughbrickland, Newry and Warrenpoint.
For patients living outside Dr Sloan’s practice boundary, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) asked them to register themselves with a practice close to their home address.
The Castlewellan Road practice served approximately 2,700 patients from Rathfriland, Moneyslane, Ballyroney, Kilcoo and Hilltown.
Both doctors resigned with effect from the end of July leaving the future of the practice in doubt. The site of the surgery owned by Dr Sloan was listed for sale by Stephen Fitzpatrick Estate Agents.
Dr Shannon commented: “From knowing about the closure of Dr Sloan’s Practice we had a multitude of meetings with plans put in place for what has technically been forced upon us by the board.
“Our new patients started with us on Wednesday and so far everything has been running smoothly.
“All of the GPs here will have increased their sessions as well as the practice nurses.”
Dr Shannon added that the health centre is currently undergoing renovation works to cope with the additional patients.
“We are in the process of re-organising a number of things and carrying out renovations in order to provide two more rooms.
“However there is still the continuing pressure regarding the car park but apart from all of that we are coping well. Thankfully all of it is resolvable.”
Dr Shannon concluded that they have not been “overwhelmed” by the changes but “it is early days.”
“The winter months will be a tell-tale sign however as the summer months are a relatively quiet time.”