Northern Ireland's department of health has allocated £1.7m to address 'changes in demography' - namely the ageing population - and a £2.2m uplift to GP contract funding.
Permanent secretary of the department of health, Richard Pengelly said: 'The department recognises that primary care and GP services are the bedrock of our health and social care system. This investment of a further £3.9m, follows earlier investment this year of £1.9m for elective care and £3.91m to continue the rollout of nearly 300 practice based pharmacists.
'Given the current difficult financial position, investing nearly £10m more in GP services, the largest additional investment in recent years, reflects the department’s commitment to the continued development of sustainable and accessible primary care services centred on the needs of patients.'
Changes to the rules for sickness leave for GPs will also save practices money, Mr Pengelly said.
'The department is also introducing changes to the eligibility to the sickness leave scheme for GPs. It is estimated that these changes will save GPs more than £2.5m per year in sickness leave insurance premiums.'
GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Tom Black said: 'We welcome that the health department has managed to work through the current political impasse to make this investment in general practice and we hope this funding will help address some immediate pressures. It is disappointing though that it was not released, as agreed, nine months ago.
'This is a first step in addressing the current crisis faced by general practice in Northern Ireland, it is imperative that the health department now implements the full GP Led Care Review Plan that was announced a year ago by the last health minister, Michelle O’Neill. Without the full plan being implemented services for patients will continue to suffer. We look forward to hearing more from the health department on this.'