Speaking at the Northern Ireland LMC conference in Newcastle, County Down, on Sunday, GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that new demands placed on GPs were putting pressure on the UK-wide GMS contract.
Summing up the issues discussed at the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish LMCs conferences this month, Dr Buckman said: ‘There was a concern and a sadness that the new GP contract…actually can’t deliver some of the things that now governments want delivered in the health service.’
Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black warned that extra work created by the Compton review of the NHS in Northern Ireland could ‘overload’ the GMS contract.
Saintfield GP and Eastern LMC chairman Dr David Ross presented a motion, passed as a reference by conference, which said that the GMS contract had ‘failed to match increasing demand and increasing workload’ and therefore risked destabilising general practice.
Dr Ross said: ‘Very few enhanced services of substance have been commissioned. Meanwhile demand and workload increase inexorably. We simply can’t do any more without transfer of resource.
Also speaking at the conference, Northern LMC secretary and Antrim GP Dr Brain Patterson said: ‘The GMS contract has two major weaknesses – it doesn’t allow us to expand the GP workforce, it doesn’t allow us to expand our premises.’
Dr Ross agreed. He said that GPs had been left in a ‘catch-22’ situation, where they were forced to take on more work, but did not have the funding from an enhanced service to employ more staff or increase their premises in order to do that work.
Dr Black said that despite plans in the Compton review to move extra funds into primary care, he was not hopeful that any new enhanced services would be commissioned.
‘Northern Ireland GPC and conference are very concerned that work will be dumped without any resource,’ he said.
Despite such criticisms Dr Buckman was hopeful for the future of the contract. He said: ‘Its already changed, and I believe further changes can be brought in.’
- Watch our video interview with Dr Buckman to find out more about his thoughts on this year's Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish LMCs conferences