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GPs go forth

Retired GPs to form 'rescue teams' to save stricken practices

Exclusive The BMA in Northern Ireland is putting together ‘rescue teams’ of retired GPs to save practices on the brink of collapse.

Dr Tom Black, NI GPC chair, said the GPC knew of several large urban practices planning to hand their contracts back in April as the ‘sums no longer added up’ for partners.

This comes as the BMA is still collecting undated resignations from practices after the majority of GPs voted to walk away from the NHS.

Pulse has reported a number of areas in Northern Ireland that are particularly struggling, including Portadown and Fermanagh.

A lack of action from the Department of Health has left the BMA having to come up with solutions for practices who feel they are left with no choice, Dr Black said.

He told Pulse: ‘There are GPs in Northern Ireland in their late 50s who are doing their sums and working out how much will it cost in staff redundancy and premises and they’re planning to hand back contracts on the 1 April.’

Plans include using retired GPs in addition to other primary care staff to support practices who are about to fold, due to there being no spare or locum GPs.

Dr Black said: ‘We are setting up rescue teams – we have a small working group looking at the costings of bringing in two or three GPs, a practice manager and a pharmacist. Practices never collapse fully and we can move these GPs and pharmacists in to stabilise them.

In a recent newsletter, Dr Black urged struggling practices to approach the BMA for help before it was too late.

‘We are looking at retired GPs who would do this for a short time. We know practices who want to hand their contract in, who have missing partners. If you are down one partner you will find it hard, if you have two you will collapse.’

The BMA is currently bidding for Department of Health funding to pay for the scheme.

The political stalemate in Northern Ireland has left a GP rescue plan, which was agreed in December, languishing with no funding.

Westminster has imposed a £10.6bn budget, which includes a 5.4% uplift for health, providing some temporary stability after power-sharing talks broke down.

There has also been discussion of a possible £50m extra for health as the first part of the confidence and supply deal between the UK Government and the DUP.

The BMA’s plan to collect undated resignation involve the so-called ’Plan B’ for an alternative service – details of which are not yet being made public, but could involve practices directly charging patients – that will kick in once 60% of resignations are collected.

Readers' comments (16)

  • 'Wishful Thinking'
    'Magic Pixies'
    'Appraisal and Revalidation'
    Carpe Diem
    Best Of Luck
    One of your committed supporters

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  • Why not just address the problems that are casing the collapse of General Practice. Will that not just be easier?

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  • A few tired old men are not going to save a failing system you need an army of GPs and that doesnt exist.There is not enough noctors either so we are well and truly f*****.

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  • Lol

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  • Indemnity? Revalidation? Up to date?
    Am struggling to wonder why anyone retired would want to come back to struggling practices - where the stress and workload would be high.

    If you have retired, you have earned the right to hang up your boots and enjoy some time with family and friends. It is not your responsibility to save the NHS.

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  • Sounds like Dads Army!

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  • Bonkers. Why would anyone want this abusive system to survive. Please, let it fail.

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  • "Organised by the BMA" Yet again, the BMA demonstrate that their allegiance is to the NHS, not the Doctors they claim to represent.

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  • Dear Dr Black.... why are you doing this????? This is madness and shows the government how you will just do whatever it takes, for basically nothing, to see the system going no matter how bad things get..... you are wrecking the professions chances of getting proper funding. You have basically put out an advertising sign saying 'Its ok to s***w us over...we'll take it and keep going'. I think this is folly, madness and will drive more students away from the job. You seem to have done `a U turn' on what would have been positive action. Jeremy Hunt must be laughing at the soft 'cardigans'..... Im very disappointed. I can only presume that you are fatigued trying to sort this mess out and have perhaps lost perspective of the bigger picture here. GPs have to walk away.... sometimes you have to let a system collapse to rebuild it.....propping up falling buildings is a dangerous occupation.....

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  • PS I have a lot of respect for Dr Black.... but I think this is the wrong way to go.....

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