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Bangor-Erris campaign for GP service to continue


WAITING The village of Bangor Erris is set to be without a permanent GP service.  Pic: Google

Áine Ryan

BANGOR-Erris’s close-knit community will not stop campaigning until it is allocated a permanent GP service, a public meeting has heard. It was confirmed to over 200 people at the meeting last Friday that the present GP, Dr Niklas Penzes is set to leave his position at Bangor Health Clinic this week to take up a new role in Co Galway.
While awaiting the appointment of a new GP, Dr Enda Loftus, who works from the Glenamoy Health Centre, will cover the area for a six-month trial period. However, concerned locals say this means the Ballina resident will now have to cover a vast area which includes 1,100 medical card patients as well as a number of private patients.
Speaking about community’s concerns, Ms Áine Neary, two of whose sons suffer from the rare muscle-wasting condition, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – Kieran (20) and James (6) has told media that Dr Penzes would be a huge loss to the area.   
She told over the weekend: “We’ve never had such a good GP — if I ring him he’s here within half an hour. Any worries I have at all, he comes over to check them over. We’ve had three bouts where Kieran has stopped breathing — a plug at the back of his nasal package blocks his airway. We just couldn’t manage without Dr Penzes. It’s so scary.”
Responding to the public meeting’s call, Minister Michael Ring said in a statement: “I have been advised that the Bangor Erris and Glenamoy practices will be cared for by one GP, on a six-month trial period. The GP position for Bangor Erris will be advertised immediately to ascertain if this post can be filled on a permanent basis following the GP’s departure.
He said it was ‘disappointing to see the GP leaving the Bangor Erris practice’ but that he was  ‘hopeful that when the position is advertised it will be filled by another GP on a permanent basis’.
Earlier this month Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary raised the issue in the Dáil arguing that the HSE needed to provide GP surgeries and facilities in the same way the IDA provides advance factories in order to protect rural GP services.
“The HSE should provide, through a public service obligation, a subsidy towards the employment and retention of staff. One of the reasons these communities are not as big as we would wish them to be is diminishing services.”