BMA asks GPs in Northern Ireland to consider mass resignation

GP leaders in Northern Ireland will ask the profession to consider a mass resignation.

NIGPC chairman Dr Tom Black (Photo: Pete Hill)
NIGPC chairman Dr Tom Black (Photo: Pete Hill)

GPC Northern Ireland confirmed following a meeting today that it will ask GPs to consider submitting undated resignation letters to the DoH.

LMCs agreed in March to make the move if the government failed to agree a rescue package for the service.

GP leaders in England rowed back from a similar move last month after NHS England agreed to discussions on key elements of the GPC’s Urgent Prescription proposals.

BMA Northern Ireland said it will gather opinions to gain consensus and ask GPs to consider signing undated resignation letters on the understanding that when there is a critical mass the union will move to a mass resignation of practices from their contracts.

NIGPC chairman Dr Tom Black said there crisis in Northern Ireland was ‘escalating with ‘ever increasing workload, a diminishing workforce, reduced funding and a failing and unsafe out-of-hours service’.

The NIGPC is demanding a rescue plan for collapsing practices and in- and out-of-hours services, along with immediate implementation of the recommendations from the GP-Led Primary Care Services In Northern Ireland working group.

‘We, as a group, have worked hard on behalf of all GPs to persuade the Department of Health to make general practice a priority for investment’ said Dr Black.

‘However the urgent action we believe that needs to be taken by the department to save general practice, for example by increasing the number of GP training places to 111 and increasing the funding for general practice, has just not happened.

‘The situation in Northern Ireland is much worse than the rest of the UK. In England, for example, the General Practice Forward View has pledged significant additional funding, we have not had the same level of commitment from the government here.

‘Without these changes, general practice will collapse. We have therefore no choice but to take drastic action.’

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: 'I fully appreciate the challenges facing GP-led services and I am committed to developing a plan that will ensure their long-term sustainability. I met recently with local representatives from both the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association’s GP Committee to listen to their concerns, which have my full attention. I am currently considering the findings and recommendations of the GP-led care working group’s report in the context of identifying future funding priorities for the health and social care service here.

'Investment in General Practice has increased in recent years with an investment package of up to £5.1 million in 2015/16 and up to a further £7 million in 2016/17. £1.2m per year is also being made to increase the number of GP training places to 85 each year, up from 65. A 5 year initiative to place up to 300 pharmacists in GP practices by 2020/21is underway and will see total investment rising to £14m per year. I also recently announced a further £900,000 has also recently been invested in GP Federations, to enhance the capacity to meet growing patient demand and provide significant opportunities to provide more services in the community setting moving forward.

'I am determined to build on the actions that have already been taken to support general practice to continue to provide high quality care to our population on a sustainable basis. I will have more to say on this when I set out my vision for Health and Social Care here in the Autumn.'

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