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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Why I do smear tests from the age of 20

One unforeseen consequence of GMS2 is the position of practices in Northern Ireland that took on extra staff after the MPIG sampling year under the GMS1 contract before anyone realised this would not be supported by their MPIGs.

This means some practices now find themselves either having to make these staff redundant or dip into their own pockets to keep them working in patient care. A difficult choice, especially as most practices will have significant cash-flow problems until their quality payments are made at the end of the financial year.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety has confirmed that the four health boards are willing to support the extra staff on an ad hoc basis but have been warned that, if they do, they must justify why they cannot fund the totality of GMS2.

The sums of money involved are significant but not critical for the four boards. But they do represent potential destabilisation for some of the practices involved. This is ironic given the professed wish to avoid destabilising practices that led to the introduction of the ridiculous square root formula to correct for low prevalence in the Q&O payments.

Practices want to deliver better health care but this is not possible without extra staff.

Patients want better access to primary medical services but this cannot be improved without more staff.

Dr Lewis Miller

Belfast

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