Calls for 25% increase in NI funding

GP leaders in Northern Ireland are demanding that GMS funding per capita is uplifted by more than 25 per cent to match the UK average.

UK GMS spend per capita in 2004/5 was £135 on average, but only £107 in Northern Ireland, according to Office of Health Economics (OHE) data (GP, 9 March).

GPC Northern Ireland has sent figures supplied by GP to BMA health policy experts to prepare a case for an uplift that will be presented to ministers later this year.

GPC Northern Ireland chairman Dr Brian Dunn told the 2007 Northern Ireland LMCs conference in Newcastle, County Down: ‘We will be taking advice from the BMA’s health policy and economic research unit. I want it to look at the OHE data and get us evidence so we can go to the DoH and ask for funding.

‘We are behind on GMS funding per capita, and will be pushing for the equivalent of UK average funding.’

Although GMS finding in Northern Ireland is the lowest in the UK, total family health services spending is the highest, suggesting GPs are not receiving their share of existing resources.

Dr Dunn said that hospitals in Northern Ireland receive 111 per cent of the UK average share of health funding.

‘There are too many small hospitals draining resources,’ he told GP.

Eastern LMC secretary Dr Jimmy Courtney told the conference: ‘It is an indictment of our health department that we have not seen sustained investment in primary care. We need to present the GMS funding data to the government and ask them why they are not funding general practice.’

LMC leaders backed a motion at the conference highlighting ‘the failure of the DoH, Social Services and Public Safety to invest in general practice while bailing out secondary care’.

GPs hit out at variations in global sum funding caused by the GMS contract formula. Practices in Northern Ireland receive between £38 and £84 per patient from global sums, before the MPIG weighting is taken into account.

They said the formula targeted the correct areas, but created too wide a gap between winners and losers.

GPs backed a motion calling for a revised global sum formula to ‘more accurately reflect actual differences in workload’.

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