Mass contract resignation backed by 97% of GPs in Northern Ireland

GPs in Northern Ireland could quit the health service next year after 97% voted in favour of mass resignation over funding.

GPC Northern Ireland

GPC Northern Ireland is set to hold urgent talks with the Northern Ireland health department over a funding and rescue plan for the service.

GP leaders are demanding an additional £120m funding, equivalent to the extra money given to general practice in England through the GP Forward View and to the £500m investment promised for GPs in Scotland.

The GPC is calling for a minimum 10% incremental, recurrent funding increase for general practice, and a stabilisation fund to support vulnerable practices.

GP contracts

If GP leaders do not accept the government’s proposals when they meet on 25 January, practices in Northern Ireland will be balloted over tearing up their contracts.

The crisis in general practice has come to a head in recent weeks with more than two thirds of practices in one county - Fermanagh - expected to be closed within months.

GP leaders have drawn up a so-called ‘Plan B’ for general practice to operate outside the current contract with the health service. The proposals could mirror arrangements over the border in the Republic of Ireland, where patients are charged up to €60 per consultation.

GP funding

GPs have been voting on the plan at a series of meetings in recent weeks, with 97% giving their backing.

GPC chair Dr Tom Black, speaking following the final meeting in County Antrim, said: ‘What we have heard across all these meetings are the very issues we have been flagging up in general practice for many months now and unfortunately it looks like it’s crunch time.

‘While there were some positive announcements by health minister Michelle O’Neill recently as part of her health and wellbeing plans, until we have greater clarity about the funding for these initiatives we need to move forward with our own plans.'

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