Northern Ireland GPs prepare for key role in commissioning

GPs in Northern Ireland are to take on greater commissioning powers after an NHS review.

Dr Black: Northern Ireland GPs will welcome increased responsibility

In a written response to a review by John Compton, chief executive of Northern Ireland's health and social care board, the BMA revealed GPs' willingness to take on an extended role.

The review is examining the future provision of NHS services, including the development of primary healthcare and interfaces between sectors of the health service.

BMA Northern Ireland's response to the review said: 'General practice and primary care are an integral part of the solution and Northern Ireland GPs are ready to work with the rest of the service to lead the change programme needed.'

GPC Northern Ireland chairman Dr Tom Black said that although GPs would welcome increased responsibility, any changes to primary care need to be properly resourced.

He said Northern Ireland's five local commissioning groups (LCGs) would start to take on more commissioning responsibilities in future. The GP-led groups currently have control over notional budgets, but will take on additional responsibilities after the review, he said.

'LCGs will take on budgets for outpatients, out-of-hours, minor surgery and community nursing, and they will deliver care pathways in areas such as ENT,' Dr Black said.

He said that LCGs were more centrally controlled than clinical commissioning groups in England, but that GPs in Northern Ireland would be content with this arrangement.

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