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Northern Ireland general practice needs '25% funding boost to achieve parity'

The chair of Northern Ireland BMA has used his annual conference speech to say general practice requires an additional 25% funding just to ‘achieve parity’ with other parts of the UK.

Council chair Dr John Woods, a consultant in renal medicine in Belfast, told delegates at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting that in both primary and secondary care ‘morale is low and Northern Ireland is becoming a less attractive place to work for all doctors’.

He said: ‘Services, already underfunded, face austerity-commanded cuts. Waiting lists are increasing to levels not seen for several years. We have a general practice service that requires an additional 25% funding just to achieve parity with other parts of the UK.’

Dr Woods hit out at the lack of engagement at the Northern Ireland Department of Health with the BMA.

He said the failure to engage ‘undervalues our members’ experience, and misses the opportunity to make genuine, effective changes to improve services’.

He added: ‘They need to involve us more often, more effectively. We should not have to continually knock on their door. Let’s have a culture of genuine partnership working with doctors that leads to changes that benefit patients.’

Despite these difficulties Dr Woods highlighted Northern Ireland’s success in primary care over the past year.

Dr Woods said: ‘Under the leadership of Dr Tom Black, not-for-profit GP federations have been established and are up and running across Northern Ireland… A doctor-led response to the funding, workload and workforce crises in general practice.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • Blimey!!

    If northern Ireland need a 25% just to achieve parity with the rest of the uk (which probably needs 25-30% more funding to achieve a decent level of funding itself) things must really be bad over there....

    where's all this extra money going to come from I wonder??

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  • Profit per patient in NI is £ 58 average opposed to £ 74 elsewhere. costs allocations are similarly woeful comparatively.
    There is another plan. We are not far from Eire where health care is private.
    If elected representatives do not wish general practice to be publicly funded, well so be it then.
    We cannot forever subsidise the NHS.

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  • They are desperate for GPs in Eire and in the coming 5 years, as in the UK, Eire is expecting a huge loss of GPs to retirement. They only train a couple of hundred of GPs a year (100-200) and a lot of these go abroad.

    If Northern Ireland can't get it primary care funding right, improve our terms conditions and workload......we already know and expect similar exodus of workforce in the next 5 years - making NI situation untenable.

    I predict that Eire may then attract what's left of NI gps in the border areas and above to work South. If they are offering better terms, conditions, private practice, more income: for smaller lists!!

    Mass exodus of the young and upwardly mobile GPs

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