Northern Ireland LMCs say shift of work to primary care must be funded

GPs must get involved in commissioning to ensure that a shift of work from secondary to primary care is properly funded, GPs in Northern Ireland have said.

Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black
Northern Ireland GPC chairman Dr Tom Black

Delegates at the Northern Ireland LMC conference in Newcastle, County Down, on Sunday voted in favour of a motion that called for GPC Northern Ireland to ensure any work moved from secondary to primary care under the Compton review was properly resourced.

The Compton review of health and social care puts a greater emphasis on GPs commissioning services and promises a budget of £38m for work moved from secondary to primary care.

GPs in Northern Ireland have already seen pre-referral and post discharge work, minor surgery, outpatient clinics and diagnostics moved into general practice.

Presenting the motion, on behalf of Eastern LMC, Belfast GP Dr Alan Stout said: ‘I think supporting the [Compton] proposals is fine, I think we then need to make sure there is an appropriate shift left.’

Eastern LMC member Dr Paul Megarity agreed. He said: ‘The shift left agenda is going to happen in some shape or form. We need to get the message over that we can do it for less but we will not be doing it for free.’

Southern LMC member Dr Adrian Mulholland added: ‘We need constant funding streams; they need to be guaranteed and they need to be ongoing.’

Watch Dr Tom Black discuss the Compton review at the Northern Ireland LMCs conference


GPs also expressed concerns that they were not being fully involved in the implementation of the Compton review.

Western LMC member Dr Peter Beckett said: ‘We need to be involved, it’s the main show in town and we need to be involved.’

‘I haven’t heard much talk about doctors, let alone GPs being involved in this,' he added.

Southern LMC member Dr Frances O’Hagan shared Dr Beckett’s concerns, and warned that changes were due to be implemented in a very short space of time.

‘They have said this is going to happen and it will happen very quickly…probably within a year,’ she said.

Former NI GPC chairman Dr Brian Dunn said it was important for GPs to get involved in commissioning as soon as possible, rather than waiting for central guidance.

‘If we wait for the Northern Ireland GPC to take the lead it will have already happened. We need GPs on the ground now,’ he said.

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