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Funding shift from hospitals to GPs 'delayed', says auditor general

The planned shift of funding from hospitals to primary care has run into delays, according to a report from Northern Ireland's auditor general.

In 2011, the Northern Irish Government proposed shifting £83m from hospitals into primary and community care by 2015/16.

But an investigation into the management of the ‘Transforming Your Care Reform Programme’ found that, to date, only £65.4m has been reallocated.

Kieran Donnelly, comptroller and auditor general found the pace of change had not been ‘as swift as originally envisaged’ and the impact of the changes so far limited.

Under the five-year programme, designed to help the NHS cope with an ageing population living with multiple chronic diseases, the home was to become the ‘hub of health and social care services'.

But a slow start coupled with ongoing financial pressures has meant only £40m of the £148m estimated investment has been spent on the reforms, and only £28m of the predicted £130m savings has been realised.

RCGP Northern Ireland chair Dr Grainne Doran said they had welcomed the proposals in 2011 but had warned at the time the rollout would be ‘fatally flawed’ unless general practice was properly resourced.

She said: ‘General practice needs urgent support to make sure patients get the services they deserve.

‘We have been calling on the Government to increase funding for general practice and ensure that it receives 11% of healthcare funding.’

Dr Doran added that the limited pace of change highlighted in the report was ‘deeply disappointing’.

She said: ‘Political leaders must do the jobs they were elected to do and take action to save our health service.'

GPs in Northern Ireland are currently in a state of limbo after the collapse of the power-sharing Government.

And the BMA is collecting resignations from practices set to walk away from the NHS amid severe staff shortages and funding difficulties.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Dear Grainne,
    Transferring your care (sic), was just a wheeze to dump unfunded work on primary care without any resources, it was never going to work as secondary care control health policy locally in NI and they would not shift a penny of their budgets to the community but were more than happy to shaft gp with a lot of their work which they had already been paid to do.....
    Hayes, Compton, Donaldson and Bengoa all said the same thing, and yet, Even now the DoH locally bend over backwards to aid and bailout hospitals, the largest gp practice now in NI work from a premises that is diabolically bad in structure and this is in the first minister's home town, there is no money for lisnaskea health centre replacement but millions for a white elephant new hospital in Omagh at 100 million pounds.....
    Money talks and lack of investment in community services screams misgovernment

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  • Of course, there is no money. Stormont would rather fund pellets to 1500 million [ RHI ] and NAMA to 1600 million than the education or health of their voters, where they have cut funding.
    Stormont simply does not care. Funding for GPs has fallen from 11% [2004] to 5.5% [2016].
    Enough said.

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