Northern Ireland GPs demand funding to tackle soaring demand

GPs in Northern Ireland have called for urgent investment to ease 'unprecedented' pressure on primary care, warning the service faces a looming crisis.

Dr Arnie McDowell: general practice under pressure (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Arnie McDowell: general practice under pressure (Photo: JH Lancy)

One leading GP warned the ‘inexorably rising workload’ and ‘static workforce’ could not be addressed without new resources.

GPs warned that the Northern Ireland Assembly government’s Transforming Your Care policy, which aims to shift care out of hospitals, is creating additional unresourced workload, and urged ministers to find a long-term funding solution.

GPC member Dr Arnie McDowell told UTV news his Newry practice was no longer able to take on new patients safely.

Breathing space

‘For the time being we have decided we are unable to safely expand our list and register new patients,' said Dr McDowell. ‘And we are hoping the Health and Social Care Board will grant a temporary list closure to enable us to have a breathing space.’

He added: ‘As GPs we need to see the department, the board and our politicians realise there is a potential looming crisis in general practice and they need to act accordingly and urgently.’

In September Northern Ireland GPC said services were under threat after then-health minister Edwin Poots revealed his department face a £140m funding shortfall as the assembly government grapples with a Westminster-imposed funding cuts and an intra-party struggle of spending priorities.

In October ministers confirmed a budget allocation for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety of just £60m.

Pressure on GPs

Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black said: ‘It is clear that urgent action is needed to alleviate the pressures being experienced in GP surgeries across Northern Ireland.

‘Many practices are finding it difficult to recruit new staff for a variety of reasons including the overwhelming workload, increasing cuts and a lack of funding.

‘GPs are heading into a crisis situation which must be addressed urgently by the Health and Social Care Board.'

He added: ‘We are not asking for a short-term fix. The fact of the matter is that GP services need to be core funded on a long-term basis.  However immediate steps are necessary to manage workload and demand.

‘It is crucial that these issues are addressed before GPs are left in a position whereby they have to make tough choices about the services they are able to deliver.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Proportion of NHS GPs trained in EEA stabilises despite Brexit uncertainty

Proportion of NHS GPs trained in EEA stabilises despite Brexit uncertainty

The proportion of NHS GPs trained in the EEA has stabilised after a steady decline...

GPs split on calls to suspend appraisal for duration of pandemic

GPs split on calls to suspend appraisal for duration of pandemic

Senior GPs are divided over calls for appraisal to be halted for the rest of the...

GP fears rising over covert recording of consultations in pandemic

GP fears rising over covert recording of consultations in pandemic

Fears over patients covertly recording consultations have increased among GPs since...

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

Care home vaccination to begin as Scottish minister says Pfizer vaccine packs can be split up

Care home vaccination to begin as Scottish minister says Pfizer vaccine packs can be split up

Vaccination of care home residents against COVID-19 will start on 14 December in...

How will the COVID-19 vaccination programme get underway?

How will the COVID-19 vaccination programme get underway?

Following the MHRA's approval of Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 jab the government has...