Commenting on the news that the Cullybackey Medical Practice has handed back its contract, the 15th surgery to do so in the space of a year and affecting over 7,000 patients, Dr Alan Stout, BMA NI GP committee chair said: “This is becoming an increasingly desperate situation for general practice in Northern Ireland, its staff and the patients we care for.
“Such is the speed and number of these contract hand-backs – 15 in the past year alone, affecting tens of thousands of patients – that this is in danger of becoming ‘the norm’. This is far from a normal situation and is hugely significant for all patients, staff, GPs and the local communities they serve. The risks to other neighbouring practices of a list dispersal are even more destabilising. This practice will not be the last to fall and is the fourth practice in this locale to hand back its contract. General practice and wider primary care is the most basic function of any health service, accessed by many thousands every single day. If it fails, then the whole NHS will fail.
“Urgent action needs to be taken now to save general practice before we are past the point of no return. In the short term that means stabilising workloads, correcting funding allocations to meet current demand, removing disproportionate admin requirements and finally addressing indemnity rates. Long term, we have a workforce crisis that needs meaningful action and the required funding. New GPs are coming through, but this number is not keeping up with the amount of older GPs we are losing to retirement and burnout.”