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New NI contract ‘will not be a rescue package’

The forthcoming contract for GPs in Northern Ireland will not be a ‘rescue package’ but will help ease workload pressures and bring increases in funding, GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Tom Black has told Pulse.

Dr Black said the contract, due for implementation from April, is likely to be finalised in the next two weeks.

This comes as further evidence of the crises in general practice is emerging, with two small practices closing in the last week, said Dr Black, who believes about 20 will become unsustainable in the 2016 calendar year.

He added: ‘The contract will not contain the rescue package that we need but there will be some easement in terms of workload, workforce pressure and funding difficulties. Twenty practices closing this year may not sound a lot but there are only 360 in the country.

’The local areas will have to pick these practices up and run them as mergers or as part of some other plan.’

He said the current crisis around GP recruitment and workload pressure was the worse for more than 50 years.

Dr Black’s comments come ahead of the Northern Ireland LMC annual conference on March 12-13 in Belfast.

Motions will consider what work/services must cease to reduce the workload to ensure safe and sustainable care for patients, and whether the Government should define minimum safe level of staffing and workload for out-of-hours providers.