Northern Ireland GPs fear raid on new contract funds
GPs in Northern Ireland fear the new contract will fail to deliver extra cash to practices because their funds will lack any of the protection afforded English GPs.
Under the province's current funding arrangements, ministers get a free hand to raid health budgets for non-health care expenditure.
LMCs in the province said the so-called Barnett Formula would allow ministers to syphon off funds earmarked for out-of-hours care, treatment of violent patients, minor surgery and asylum seekers.
The province gets a population-based share of any English health spending increases, but the Northern Ireland assembly is not obliged to spend the increase on health.
Dr Colin Hegan, secretary of Northern LMC, said GPs did not believe the contract would level the playing field. 'Money has come to Northern Ireland but has not been going to health care,' he said.
'The main thing is whether there is sufficient funding for enhanced services. The global sum should be assured. Our concern is whether money will flow through to local and
national enhanced services.'
Dr Marshall Garvin, Southern LMC secretary, said he was demanding assurances from ministers that all promised new funding would come to GPs and that the final contract would not be subject to the Barnett Formula.
'Everything seems to be on hold. We are behind in funding staff in primary care. In IT there has not been a lot of movement and we've a lot of catching up to do,' he added.
Already GPs in the province miss out on modernisation funds for premises, staff and IT and are ineligible for 'golden hellos' and other recruitment and retention incentives.