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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Use Theresa May's £200m to save general practice, NI leaders told

A GP rescue deal for Northern Ireland should be funded from the Government’s £1bn deal with the DUP, the BMA says.

Health is to receive £200m under the confidence-and-supply arrangement for the 10 DUP MPs to back Prime Minister Teresa May’s minority government.

Northern Ireland GPC chair Dr Tom Black said the GP rescue plan - which was signed off in December shortly before the collapse of the power sharing government - should be a priority.

This comes as general practice in Northern Ireland is on a precipice, with the BMA collecting undated resignations after GPs voted to walk away from the NHS.

Dr Black told Pulse: ‘We have arranged to meet the permanent secretary this week to press our case.

‘The alternative is the complete collapse of general practice.’

BMA Northern Ireland council chair Dr John D Woods said it was vital that the additional funding for health was spent addressing long-term sustainability and not just used as a ‘quick fix’.

He said: ‘There are a number of priority areas that need tackled urgently; the crisis in general practice has been well documented and the BMA has made it clear that a rescue package is needed now.

‘We also need to take steps now to address the growing shortage of doctors across Northern Ireland in order to meet population needs.’

In response, officials in Scotland and Wales called for a fair deal for health funding.

The Scottish government said they would launch a formal dispute unless a fair deal was reached across the UK

In a letter to the Treasury, Scottish finance secretary Derek Mackay, said the ‘deal prioritises expenditure in Northern Ireland at the cost of all other parts of the UK and leaves Scotland almost £3bn worse off’ than it would have been had funding been allocated via established formula.

BMA Scotland chair Dr Peter Bennie said: ‘As demands on Scotland’s NHS increase year on year, staff and financial resources in the health service are simply failing to keep pace.

‘Regardless of where the Scottish Government gets the money, the funding gap in Scotland’s NHS needs to be closed as a matter of urgency if we are to have a health service that is capable of meeting the needs of patients.’

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething meanwhile called for the removal of the pay cap so NHS Wales staff get a pay uplift above 1%, citing the £1bn ‘found’ by the Government to ’effectively end austerity in Northern Ireland’.

General practice on the brink

General practice in Northern Ireland is in crisis due to chronic underfunding and severe workforce shortages. It is estimated that 20 practices may fail this year.

A rescue package was agreed in December 2016 but the collapse of the power-sharing government means no funding in place.

The BMA is collecting undated resignations from practices after the Government failed to meet their demands for saving general practice.

‘The GPC’s Plan B’, if instated, would see GPs walk away from the NHS and charge for services.

Salt in the wound came in the form of news last month that £1m has been removed from QOF funding for 2017/18 due to a ‘statistical quirk’.

And last week, GPC passed a motion that NI GPs would be advised to concentrate on core workload only.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Vinci Ho

    You see
    If you have just watched Andrew Marr's programme this morning , the two currently 'hottest labels' are DUP and Pay Review Bodies(for various public sectors including NHS and education).
    The DUP story teminds us of the vitality to be the Kingmaker rather than the Kingslayer (unless you fancy the life of Jamie Lannister in Games of Throne). The price tag of being a kingmaker , or more appropriately queen-maker in the context of our PM, is currently £1.5 billion with rumours that this can inflate further. Yes , I agree it is important to have windfall money to help the crises in Northern Ireland especially and specifically in general practice and health service (provided that new money is really to be used for this purpose). But what about the rest of the country with the PM insisting that there was no such thing called 'magic money tree' during the election campaign?
    Listening to the cunning Michael Gove , one cannot stop shaking his/her head that he was still playing the old trick of claiming credit of a policy(hence, saving the lives of people in NI)which was set up for a totally unrelated political agenda i.e. saving the a*se of his zombie PM and her party , in the first place,
    Then the question of lifting the pay cap in public sectors and what will happen?
    Nobody , including the Labour's shadow health secretary, had the guts to suggest a possible figure of pay rise . Another old trick called passing the ball around was played . Suddenly, Pay Review Bodies have become the most important offices in this country . But they only work under the strict conditions set by the government, D'oh!(as the Simpsons would say). Well , the proper terminology is hypocrisy.Given the latest inflation figure of 2.9% which had already exceeded the wage rise figure of around 2.3% this year , you wonder what figures the review bodies could really come up with . It is now interesting how the negotiation between GPC and our corresponding pay review body will turn out to be.
    The reality is until one sees the black and white being signed and the actual money , nothing is guaranteed.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Correction
    The DUP story reminds us.....

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  • Vinci....seriously, can you keep it to 3 short paragraphs

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  • Give 140 million to nhse bosses and sneak away the rest to cardigans in lmcs and ccgs- a million for the rest of gps should suffice.
    It's always them and us - the 'thems' being hard working gps who are paid for 2/3 of their patient lists while the 'us' have weightage to 200 percent in posh localities. Slavery was not abolished in this country, it carries on with exploitation by the ruling lot and their cronies whose hands are hidden in white gloves instead of blood tainted ones of yore.

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