Northern Ireland needs 25% more GPs in next five years, warns RCGP

Northern Ireland needs 400 more GPs over the next five years - a 25% increase in the current workforce, according to the RCGP.

GP workforce: Northern Ireland needs 25% increase
GP workforce: Northern Ireland needs 25% increase

GP consultations in Northern Ireland have risen 76% in the past 20 years, a healthcare strategy report from the college warns, while out-of hours GP consultations rose 18% between 2008/9 and 2012/13.

Pressure on GPs will continue to grow as the population over 75 is set to rise 18% by 2020, the report adds, but funding for GPs has been cut - falling to 8.3% of NHS spending in 2013/14.

GP training posts in Northern Ireland must increase, the college warns - citing a 2014 report calling for the number of posts to rise from 65 to 111.

GP incentive payments

Medical students should be exposed more to general practice, it warns, and GPs who qualify in Northern Ireland should be offered financial incentives to stay, or to return if they have moved abroad.

The report also demands a review of GP bureaucracy, with all new health policies road tested to assess their impact on GP workload.

Echoing the UK-wide RCGP call for GP funding to rise to 11% of overall NHS spending, the college's Northern Ireland branch called for investment in expanded practice teams, federations and an £8.3m infrastructure fund to upgrade premises across the country.

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