Commenting on today’s figures, Dr Alan Stout, BMA NI GP committee chair said, “The figures released in today’s report paint a worrying picture for the future of general practice in Northern Ireland. We can clearly see the pressures face by GPs in the last few years have had an impact; there are now fewer practices across Northern Ireland, yet they are having to deal with more patients. Unfortunately, patients in the Western area are the most affected with a 16% decrease in provision there. This cannot continue.
“Working as a GP partner with its associated responsibilities and pressures is no longer an attractive career option, more GPs are opting to work as locums as this option offers increased flexibility and autonomy. This is a pattern that is likely to continue.
“We urgently need to stabilise general practice. Despite the narrative that practices have ‘closed’ GPs are working harder than ever to meet the needs of their patients. We need to see a faster roll out of the MDTs, continued increase in training numbers, changes to pension taxation to prevent GPs retiring early, an indemnity solution for Northern Ireland to match the rest of the UK and a significant investment in our premises, many of which are substandard.
“It is also worth noting that the £11 increase per patient is not a sum that goes directly to practices, it incudes an investment in the wider health system, which is the right direction of travel but we still need the staff and the premises to support it.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.