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Northern Ireland invests £7m in general practice

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced a £7m increase in GP contractual funding as negotiations for a 2016/17 deal have concluded in Northern Ireland.

It said the deal represented ‘a significant investment’, which will increase overall funding by 3% and will cover a 1% pay rise.

Northern Irish GPC welcomed the increased funding but said that practices still faced the threat of closure as workforce pressures meant they could not recruit.

NIGPC chair Dr Tom Black said: ’The investment put forward in this year’s general practice contract is welcome and acknowledges the hard work of GPs who have come up with new ideas to help address the impact of years of under-funding and inadequate workforce planning.

’Despite this, we are still living with the real threat of GP practices closing as doctors retire and cannot be replaced. We are keeping a close watch on this issue, particularly in the border counties where many practices are vulnerable to collapse.’

Health minister Simon Hamilton said the deal ’will help to address rising demand and will ensure we adopt innovative new ways of working such as online appointment booking and repeat prescriptions’.