New GP federations funding announced by Northern Ireland government

The government in Northern Ireland has announced £900,000 new funding for GP federations.

Stormont: funding announced by Northern Ireland government (Photo: iStock)

The announcement came following crisis talks between GPC chairman Dr Tom Black and health minister Michelle O'Neill on a range of issues facing general practice in the country.

Dr Black welcomed the announcement but warned that sustained investment was needed.

Last week the BMA launched a public petition demanding a 10% share of health service funding for general practice to avert a crisis in the service.

RCGP Northern Ireland chairman Dr John O’Kelly also met the health minister at Stormont last week. He warned that general practice would not exist a decade from now without urgent government action.

GP funding

The new funding will help support the development by the health service and LMCs of 17 not-for-profit federations.

The Sinn Fein minister said she had listened to GPC concerns about the sustainability of general practice, and was determined to shift the focus of the health system onto primary and community care. 

‘This funding will help broaden the skill mix in primary care as well as enhance capacity to meet growing patient demand,’ said Ms O’Neill. ‘Working together through federations will help GPs find new ways of working to address the challenges they face.’

‘It is particularly important that we ensure small rural and single-handed practices are supported to continue to deliver services in their communities. The investment I am announcing today should be of particular benefit to these smaller surgeries that will benefit from the economies of scale that working as part of a federation could bring.’ 

GP training

The minister added: ‘GPs are at the centre of our health and care system and I intend to build on the positive steps that have already been taken to support these services, including the investment of £1.2m to fund additional GP training places and the £7m invested into the GP contract this year.’

Dr Black said:  'We are pleased to welcome this funding for general practice in Northern Ireland, and specifically the investment in the federations model.

'Practices across the country are facing unprecedented pressures, with rural and single-handed practices facing very serious issues and at risk of total collapse.

'This funding will help us put in place some of the structures and support that is needed. However, as we said in our meeting with the minister, we need to see a sustained investment in primary care. We cannot rely on ‘slippage’ money from other government departments to fund our core services.'

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