General practitioner Northern Ireland

Last updated:

GPs back mass-resignation plan

Patients in GP waiting room

Hundreds of GPs in Northern Ireland have backed plans for mass resignation.

The overwhelming majority of the country’s GPs who attended five BMA-organised roadshows between October and December have declared themselves willing to sign undated letters of resignation.

Northern Ireland GPs committee chair Tom Black has urged politicians to engage meaningfully with doctors in coming up with solutions for the medical community and patients.

He added that the outcomes of the negotiations on a rescue plan for general practice would be considered before at the next meeting of NIGPC on 25 January.

He said: ‘What we have heard across all these meetings are the very issues we have been flagging up in general practice for many months now and unfortunately it looks like it’s crunch time.

‘While there were some positive announcements by [health minister Michelle] O’Neill recently as part of her health and well-being plans, until we have greater clarity about the funding for these initiatives we need to move forward with our own plans.’

Dr Black was referring to the Northern Ireland Government’s recent Health and Well-being 2026: Delivering Together, a 10-year plan to improve health and social care performance.

‘We will now enter into negotiations with the Department of Health on funding the rescue plan for general practice. The agreement will then go before the next meeting of NIGPC on 25 January for decision on whether it will meet the needs of the GP service here.’

Steps toward submitting undated resignations began following the approval of a motion at the BMA Northern Ireland local medical committees conference in March, calling for GPs to take action if a rescue package for general practice was not implemented within six months.

Measures being sought by NIGPC include a commitment to invest 10 per cent of Northern Ireland’s health budget into general practice, as well as an immediate stabilisation fund for vulnerable practices and a credible plan for training and recruiting more GPs.

Following the motion, NIGPC staged a series of roadshow meetings in towns and cities across Northern Ireland, including Belfast, Armagh and Derry, to gauge opinion over taking action.

Ninety seven per cent of those attending the five events stated they were prepared to begin the process of resigning from the NHS by signing undated letters of resignation.

Addressed to a GPs' commissioning body, signed letters of resignation would be put at the disposal of the BMA, which can then decide if and when to send them.

Find out more about the NIGPC’s rescue package recommendations

Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.