A DOZEN Killarney GPs spent over €1.5m in planning and design costs in an attempt to set up a centralised medical centre in the town but despite the substantial spend, the Reeks Gateway Medical Centre will be left with just two practices from next week.
Three of the five practices who originally joined the consortium have been forced to move back into their old surgeries following a decision by An Bord Pleanála who ruled that the second floor of the site was not exempted development.
Park Medical Practice (owned by Dr Gary Stack), Torc Medical Practice (Domhnall Kavanagh) and Cahernane Medical Practice (Dr John Geaney) are currently vacating the Sunday's Well built property and will move back into their former surgeries.
If they do not move out, they could face an eviction order by Killarney Town Council.
The first floor of the Reeks development was unaffected by An Bord Pleánala's decision meaning that the Ross and Deenagh practices will remain onsite.
The decision came after several local pharmacists objected to the Reeks Gateway site, citing concerns about the loss of business in the town centre.
"We asked the pharmacists to come on board first day but they refused," Dr Stack stated this week.
First mooted seven years ago, the doctors had originally intended to move into the St Finan's site but when that proposal fell through the Reeks Gateway became the back-up option.
Extensive plans had accompanied the St Finan's proposal and costs are estimated to have been in the region of €1m, whilst a further €1/2m was spent on developing the Reeks Gateway site.
Dr Stack says that the relocating back to his original practice will further add to his expense.
"To be honest I believe the patients can ill-afford this decision and the country can ill-afford the luxury of An Bord Pleanála," he stated.
He added that the three practices who were forced out could still appeal the decision but they were concerned that the process would take up to two years, with no guarantee it would be successful.
"It has basically been choked and it's sad for the people of Killarney and the surrounding area - this is a lost opportunity" he added.
Marketed as a one-stop-shop, the GPs had plans for co-ordinated XRay, outpatient and physio facilities onsite.