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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Why we are asking GPs to submit undated resignations

Dr Tom Black explains

We had a unanimous decision at the Northern Irish GPC meeting today to ask GPs in Northern Ireland to submit undated resignations. There are a lot of pressures in Northern Ireland and general practice doesn't seem to be a priority.

Our main concerns are around funding which is at the lowest level of anywhere in the UK at 5.5% of the health budget. We have the lowest workforce in the UK, with 2,000 patients per average whole-time equivalent GP.

And we have the highest workload, which has essentially doubled in the last ten years. So we are in an untenable position. If we don't step in and fix this now there will not be a GP service, and if there is no GP service there is no NHS.

We’ll take GPs and the service outside the NHS and we will build it back up again

What the Government can do

To stop this happening, we are asking for scheme similar to the GP Forward View and a transformation of the health service in Northern Ireland - most of the resource at present goes to hospital services and given that most of the work has now been shifted into general practice that’s not a sustainable model.

We are looking for a level of funding consistent with the GP Forward View which we think would be about £120 million extra.

We actually have GPs coming to us and saying they want to go forward with dated resignations now, but I think we should give the Department of Health time to come up with a rescue plan. In fact, they do already have a plan which was agreed with us, they just need to fund it.

If they choose not to fund it, we are simply saying that general practice is not sustainable but it would be sustainable if we moved outside the NHS. We will take GPs and the service outside the NHS and we will build it back up again.

The next steps

What we need to do now is go out to the BMA members and explain to them the situation we’re in, the prospect of help in terms of workforce and workload and the options available to us.

The members in Northern Ireland act with solidarity and unity of purpose - when the LMCs explain the situation and advise them that submitting undated resignations is the best way forward, I would be confident that the members will recognise that and work with us as a single group.

We are looking at putting on roadshows to explain the situation to our members between now and Christmas and would expect half the membership to turn up to the roadshows. We will start collecting undated resignations as soon as members want to start sending them to us.

Once we have reached a critical mass of undated resignations (we don’t know what the ‘critical mass’ would be yet, but one suggestion is two-thirds of the membership), we would then move to contract resignations en masse from the NHS. So you are probably looking at giving notice of withdrawing from the NHS within six months.

Dr Tom Black is chair of the Northern Irish GPC

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Readers' comments (5)

  • GPFV is not good news - its a description of asphyxiation. If you are threatening to resign, fight for real change. Best of luck.

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  • Mr Mephisto

    It’s now or never - do or die time. Tom has lead the profession well in Northern Ireland. He has been the only effective leader we have had in Northern Ireland General Practice in the last 20 years. He is a jobbing GP who fully understands the pressures faced by the GP's he represents. He managed our last crisis very well when we were faced with a potentially draconian contract imposition. At that time he faced unfair criticism from within some aspects of the Northern Ireland GP profession where he was thought to have been overplaying his hand and leading us into a battle we were bound to lose. He led us into battle and did not lose! This act alone probably saved Northern Ireland General Practice at the time despite the doubters. It is time for him to try and save the profession again. He is correct in what he says - General Practice in Northern Ireland is heading for the rocks and the Civil Servants and Politicians are asleep at the wheel. Ton Black has proven his mettle. Let’s back him up.

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  • What if Norn Ireland bosses said JFDI? What if, as Reagan did to the Air Traffic Controllers, TPTB faced you off? "All" GPs resign. All contracts put out to offer.

    For a few weeks chaos ensued.

    Virgin, Pharmacy Chains, other parties applied. New order extablished.

    Interesting experiment for the masters in England to want to playout?

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  • If the DOH can get folks to do 90% of consults on 5.5% of funding in the future good luck to them. I see an Eire type GP land = it is 60 euro to see a GP

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  • Agree. At last some leadership with guts. Doesn't everyone realise they are strangling us? The only way Virgin et all could possibly hope to tender for such a contract is if they had doctors willing to sign up- any health care professionals actually. Where are they going to come from? How many GPs are there in the UK they would have to replace in 6 months? Come off it everyone- they couldn't do it- not unless it's you who is going to jump ship? No- the only thing lacking everywhere else in the UK (other than NI it seems) is RESOLVE. We have allowed ourselves to become scared and brow-beaten by a bullying Governemnt. Good for you Dr Black.

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