Northern Ireland unveils £27m GP funding boost for 2019/20

Investment in general practice in Northern Ireland will rise by £26.76m during the current financial year under plans to speed up development of multidisciplinary teams and out-of-hospital care.

BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair Dr Alan Stout (Photo: BMA)
BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair Dr Alan Stout (Photo: BMA)

A total of £18.17m will fund the 'continuation and acceleration of transformation projects' - including up to £11.1m for rolling out multidisciplinary teams.

Tranches of the new investment will support recruitment of advanced nurse practitioners, practice-based pharmacists and other staff to support GPs - along with funding for premises and other key areas.

BMA leaders have backed the investment, which comes on top of a further £37.7m rise in funding over the previous two years. BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair Dr Alan Stout said funding increases were 'beginning to make a difference for GPs, helping to ease their workload'.

Multidisciplinary team

Beside the £11.1m for multidisciplinary teams, £3.5m will be used to develop elective care services delivered in general practice, and £1.1m to support recruitment of advanced nurse practitioners in primary care.

A total of £2.19m will be spent to support Northern Ireland's practice-based pharmacist scheme, which has recruited around 200 out of a planned 300 pharmacists. This additional funding brings annual investment in the programme to more than £13m a year.

The government has promised up to £3.9m for GP premises - to be targeted at support for multidisciplinary teams and expansion of GP training. A further £2.5m will be targeted at tackling 'demography and other pressures in general practice'.

Northern Ireland health department permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said: 'This further investment builds on the £37.7m of additional funding invested in GP and related services over the last two years.

GP investment

'These significant investments reflect the crucial role general practice has in delivering health and social care to meet the needs of patients now and into the future.'

Dr Stout said that after a 'very challenging' period for general practice in recent years, the funding announcement was 'good news for GPs, for primary care and for patients across Northern Ireland'.

He said: 'The transformation money that has already been spent is beginning to make a difference for GPs, helping to ease their workload and allowing frontline services to patients to be spread across a range of health staff who are best suited to addressing a patient’s needs. This increased investment will mean that more GP practices will be able to begin the process of transforming the way they deliver services.

'We also welcome the increased funding for GP premises which will be fundamental to providing sustained and enhanced primary care, along with the other areas such as elective care services that will be so important in how we transform and change how we think about and deliver healthcare in the future.'

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