WEST Belfast People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll has expressed “serious concern” over revelations that several GP practices have attempted to close their lists to new patients. 

The West Belfast representative was speaking following news that up to eight Belfast practices have applied to close their patient lists in the past 12 months.

The report also confirmed that two GP surgeries in the North are expected to hand back their contracts to health chiefs - Grove Medical Practice in North Belfast and Priory Surgery in Holywood.

Mr Carroll called for “urgent intervention” to ensure the future of primary NHS care. 

“This is a crisis situation that could see patients denied basic healthcare,” he said. 

“The defunding of our NHS, through years of austerity, has been disastrous. We already had a situation where registered patients are struggling to get an appointment to see their GP. It is extremely worrying that many more patients could soon be without a GP. 

“Investment in GP services is clearly not keeping up with demand. We need urgent funding interventions to ensure this crisis doesn’t deepen.

“In the longer-term, we need to further expand and fully integrate GP services into our NHS. We need a system where GPs are employed by health service as opposed to the current system which sees them operate as independent contractors.”