Community victory as Strangford clinic stays

Community victory as Strangford clinic stays

12 February 2014

A CAMPAIGN to safeguard the immediate future of Strangford community clinic has received a major boost.

Two months after  treatment room services provided at the clinic were reduced, they have been restored to their previous levels by the South Eastern Trust. Weekly GP services which were moved to fortnightly provision have returned to their previous level due to current demand from patients.

 And talks are continuing with health chiefs about expanding the range of services provided at the Stella Maris Street facility and making the building available to help address social, welfare and education issues in Strangford.

It was announced at the start of December that the two-hour weekly clinic provided in the village by GPs based in Downpatrick would only be available two hours every fortnight, with the treatment room service staffed by nurses open for a similar period.

A community campaign was launched to have the decisions reversed and residents were informed last week that the two-hour  treatment room services will be available weekly, with GPs currently providing a weekly service.

Residents are also delighted that talks are continuing with a view to providing more health and social services in Strangford, utilising the clinic to its full potential.

Over 600 people signed a petition calling for the weekly services to return and campaigners also used the power of social media to create a dedicated Facebook page which secured 15,000 hits.

Councillor Gareth Sharvin, who was heavily involved in the campaign and met with senior South Eastern Trust officials, explained the change in opening hours had a “massive impact” on residents, especially those who had to make the journey to the Downe Hospital where their GPs are based.

“The decision to reintroduce weekly treatment services is good news for everyone involved in the campaign which sent out a clear signal to health chiefs that people in Strangford and the surrounding area would not allow their local health services to be cut,” he continued.

Councillor Sharvin said it’s now vitally important that the weekly GP service continues in Strangford to ensure the clinic’s long term future and hopes this can happen.

He also revealed that during discussions with senior health officials they confirmed their willingness in opening up the clinic for more medical services, in tandem with social, welfare and educational provision.

He added: “I am discussing with the Trust the possibility of providing -in centres in Strangford focusing on cancer awareness and physiotherapy. I would also like to see organisations including the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Housing Executive providing services from the clinic.”

Councillor Nicki Patterson, the South Eastern Trust’s Director of Nursing, Older People and Primary Care, said delivering appropriate services as close as possible to people’s homes remains a priority for the organisation.

She added: “We will continue to support the GP surgery through the provision of the treatment room service in Strangford clinic within the resources available to us.