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Northern Ireland GPs hit at opt-out 'cartel'

GPs are accusing health boards in Northern Ireland of acting 'like a cartel' to delay their out-of-hours opt-out.

At the recent LMCs conference in the province, GPs demanded health and social services boards set up new services by October 1.

But Dr Brian Patterson, chair of the BMA's Northern Ireland council, said there was now a 'general feeling' among GPs that an October opt-out was increasingly unlikely.

'When boards visited practices prior to them signing the contract most mentioned an October 1 opt-out. That has not been mentioned for a while,' he said.

'They will be very foolish to leave it until the last minute and should be trying to take the initiative but I fear they are pushing beyond October 1.'

Dr Jimmy Courtney, Eastern LMC secretary, said GP co-ops were already finding it hard to fill shifts.

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