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At the heart of general practice since 1960

RCGP Northern Ireland calls for GP trainee numbers to be almost doubled

The RCGP has produced a hard-hitting action plan with an exhaustive list of priorities that it wants the Northern Ireland Government to take on board, including increasing the number of trainees from 65 to 111.

In doing so, it is calling on the Government to set a target to increase the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 400 in the next five years, alongside policies that reduce GP bureaucracy levels, improve premises and free up GPs to develop innovative practice models.

The action plan, Delivering change for general practice: A strategy for improving patient care in Northern Ireland, represents the first time the RCGP has prepared a strategy of this kind.

It calls for:

  • An urgent review into how bureaucracy can be reduced, including a review of the QOF system, which ‘limits the abilities of practices to expand their workforce’.
  • GPs to be empowered to innovate through taking leadership courses and be given extra cash to set up GP federations.
  • More new services provided outside of hospitals.
  • GPs to be encouraged to undertake research.
  • More practice nurses and more pharmacists to work with GPs.
  • The building of new health and social care centres as ‘hubs’ to support smaller practices working from other premises.
  • Improved IT systems.
  • Greater access to diagnostic tests.

It reiterates its call for bumping up the proportion of the health budget spent on general practice to 11% from 8.3%.

Dr John O’Kelly, chair of the RCGP in Northern Ireland, said: ‘As a matter of priority, I urge the Northern Ireland Government to increase the number of GPs being trained by the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency at Queen’s University Belfast from 65 to 111. An increase in the number of GPs will help deal with rising demand and allow more time to be spent with patients. Five or 10 minutes is not sufficient, especially for patients who have multiple and increasingly complex conditions.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety said: ‘Encouraging consideration of general practice as a career is a priority for DHSSPS. Over £36m is provided annually by the Department to provide support for education of undergraduate medical and dental students at the relevant schools within Queens University Belfast.

‘Work is ongoing with them to expand the exposure to general practice settings within the undergraduate medical curriculum as this is known to encourage students to opt for this as a career.’

In February, the BMA in Northern Ireland called for £33m a year in recurrent funding for to pay for extra GPs, more nurses and clerical staff, and improvements to premises.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Why would anybody come into this mess and comitt to it for the forseeable future.If I were a youg medical graduate now I would not do GP,I would not stay in the UK.If I were applying for University now I would not apply for medical school as the future doesnt look bright for a medical career.I feel utter saddness for future generations thanks to the political classes.

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  • Why stop at doubled? Trebled, quintupled or multiply by infinity. Don't mean you'll fill'em. Young doctors, by definition, are not stupid. They rightly view GP as an absolute garbage bag and the only reason to do it is to fast track yourself to Queensland or New South Wales. I know Norn 'Iland is lovely to look at but it'll take more than a view of the Antrim Coast and a pint of Guinness to get most 20 somethings to sign up for 12/7 responsibility for Paddy's COPD and Mary's Depression. That's before we get to the quirks of local custom. I mean what do you do with the unwanted teenage pregnancy consultation? Shrug? Suggest a visit to Aunt Maude in Liverpool? Odd. No ta.

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  • sounds like a good idea.we need GPs not PAs.

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  • Why would anybody want to be a GP.All medical students in right mind would never choose it.Whats the incentive in choosing it.
    First of all while training you are treated as step trainee by the hospital consultants.
    All throughout your training in hospital you are made to do jobs which have nothing to do with your GP training like carded,IV cannula,catheter etc.while in GP surgery you are at the mercy of the trainer who makes you do all the shit jobs and emotionally bully you.you can't order results investigation and treatment for the patient without the permission of CCG (since they don't believe in the capabilities of your brain to make right decision).then there are patients who emotionally,verbally and physically abuse you and are never grateful for your service.And then If you are unlucky to fail your exams four times ,then you are doomed.There is no plan B as staff grade or associate specialist.How I wish I could turn clock and become a hospital doctor.

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  • You should not be a doctor in the UK. There is no limits to what you are expected to do. Until such times as the BMA defines safe working, you as a doctor will be asked to do impossible hours without sleep. Stay away from medicine as a career and you won't have to worry about 90 hour/ 7 day weeks.

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  • No unwanted teenage pregnancies. They are the ticket to income and housing c/o the state

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