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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Number of GPs in NI up by 8 per cent

The number of GPs in Northern Ireland has increased by 8 per cent in the last 10 years, new

statistics from the province's health department reveal.

While men still dominate the profession, the number of female GPs is on the rise, constituting 36 per cent of the total compared with 27 per cent in 1995.

There are now 364 GP practices and 1,084 GPs in Northern Ireland ­ 63 for every 100,000 members of the public. Almost a fifth of practices are singlehanded.

Dr Brian Dunn, GPC Northern Ireland chair, said he was pleased at the progress but warned he remained concerned about GP numbers in the future.

'We're not a million miles off the complement we should have and list sizes are smaller than in England and Wales, but we need to be training between 75 and 90 GPs per year,' he said.

'The department will only fund 50 places a year, so we will be seeing a shortfall in a few years' time.'

The total cost of general medical services in Northern Ireland in 2004/5 was £131.9 million, the figures show.

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