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GP fury as Northern Ireland delays pay

GPs in Northern Ireland are furious after being told they will have to wait until the end of the year for their pay rise.

Problems with software have delayed the uplift to fees and allowances until the next quarterly payment due at the end of December.

Quality preparation payments are also being delayed until the end of November because the Central Services Agency ­ the body in charge of making all payments to GPs in Northern Ireland ­ said it could not process them in time.

GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Brian Dunn said the delays were eroding the goodwill of the profession. 'It's unacceptable and not fair,' he added. 'GPs in Northern Ireland have been a lot more positive about the contract than in the rest of the UK but this is the first issue I've seen great annoyance over.

'It could undermine a lot of goodwill towards the Government, boards and implementation and GPs may feel less positive towards the contract.'

LMCs in the province said they had been inundated with queries from disgruntled GPs.

Eastern LMC secretary Dr Jimmy Courtney said the delay hadn't come as a surprise.

He added: 'GPs are prepared to be pragmatic, and understand where there are genuine difficulties and legislative changes, but it's harder to see why it's taking so long for this money to be paid.'

The Department of Health, Public Safety and Social Services refused to give a firm date when either payment would come through, but said the Central Services Agency was considering making a special payment run.

A spokeswoman said: 'We follow the fees agreed in Scotland for deprivation payments and extended study leave. These have still to be agreed. Once these are agreed, the total updated fees and allowance package will be forwarded to the GPC for agreement.'

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