Northern Ireland GPs to call for out-of-hours control at LMCs conference

GPs in Northern Ireland are set to call for a new role in control of out-of-hours services.

Speaking ahead of the LMCs annual conference in Newcastle, County Down, on Sunday 14 April, Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black warned that out-of-hours provision could ‘fall off a cliff’ in the next 18 months and needed GPs to take back control.

LMCs submitted eight motions on out of hours to be considered at the conference. One, from East LMC, calls for GPs to ‘opt back into the organisation and commissioning of the delivery of GP out of hours’. Another, tabled by South LMC, calls for Northern Ireland GPC to ‘support GPs regaining a central role, via commissioning, of the out-of-hours services received by their patients’.

Dr Black said out-of-hours services had been taken over by managers who should be replaced with GPs.

‘We need to make shift systems better, we need to look at skills mix, look at investment’, he added.

Dr Black said the putting GPs back in control of out of hours in a commissioning role would fit with the government’s Transforming Your Care (TYC) reforms and ‘shift left’ agenda.

‘We think it should be one of the priority areas for commissioners to look at because out of hours has a big effect on A&E, ambulances and admissions. The best way to solve those problems is to make sure a GP-run out-of-hours service is as effective and efficient as possible.’

‘The GP out-of-hours service should be there to keep people out of hospital, not to facilitate their entry into hospital’, he added.

Following Northern Ireland GPC’s last minute compromise agreement on contracts, where it won significant concessions from the DHSSPS, GPs will be looking forward to full engagement with TYC.

A motion to conference from North LMC says the ‘shift left’ away from secondary care is ‘inevitable’ and calls on Northern Ireland GPC to ensure adequate funding so GPs are not put under undue pressure.

East LMC’s motion on plans for annual health checks calls on ministers who recently visited Cuba, where a similar system exists, to learn from the communist state and seek a significant increase in doctors and healthcare funding.

North LMC, meanwhile, notes the ‘flight of Cubans through shark infested waters to avoid their annual health check’, and calls on Northern Ireland’s politicians to ‘consider the efficiencies that could be made by adopting the Cuban political system’.
  • Read Neil's coverage of the conference here at GPonline.com from Monday.

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