LMC representatives meeting in County Down for their annual conference agreed to refuse to take on any new work.
Eastern LMC’s Dr Ursula Brennan said workload had become a patient safety issue. ‘This is how we say no. This is unsustainable. It’s a clinical governance issue. It’s a patient safety issue. We have to learn how to say no.’
Dr David Ross, chairman of Eastern LMC, said: ‘When the workload is unsustainable, who gets the bum deal? Sick people. It’s people who are frail, elderly, in nursing homes, those are the ones who get the bum deal when workload is unsustainable.’
But Northern LMC’s chairman Dr Windsor Murdoch told the conference GPs were self-employed contractors and they could not refuse more work.
He said: ‘What successful provider goes out to the customer and says, no I don’t want anymore work?’
He argued that GPs should push for resources to fund new work.
Dr Tom Black, Northern Ireland GPC chairman, said workload was unsustainable and GPs could not take on any more at present.
He said that in future federations set up as provider organisations should take on ‘GMS-plus’ work and insist that any new work that comes towards primary care, such as new enhanced services, goes into the GMS-plus stream, disconnected from GMS work in practices, and planned, agreed and resourced.
The plan would create an ‘alternative income stream of resource through the parallel federation process’, he said.
‘But at the moment, no, we are not going to accept any more work for practices because they are way past capacity.’