The GPC in Northern Ireland will start collecting resignations from GP practices next week following a historic vote earlier today.
Speaking with Pulse after the meeting GPC Northern Ireland chair Dr Tom Black said once they had reached a critical mass of 60% of practice resignations ‘we will step outside the NHS’.
The move, which will see GPs leave the NHS and potentially charging around £45 for appointments, was supported by 97% of BMA members who attended a series of meetings at the end of 2016.
He said the vote by GPC members had been unanimous but there was a lot of anger that ‘GPs were being forced out of the NHS’.
Practices would essentially be giving notice so there would be a six-month period where the GPC would develop the ‘Plan B’ in full to decide details on charging for appointments and around staff, pensions and indemnity.
There are currently 343 GP practices in Northern Ireland and all partners in the practice must agree before submitting undated resignations, because the practice and not individual GPs hold the contracts.
The GPC has called for an urgent meeting with the health minister to discuss the issue.
This is one of the most radical measures ever proposed by GP leaders in the UK, in response to the ‘collapse’ of general practice in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland GPC chair Tom Black said.
‘The Department of Health and the Government have failed the health service,’ Dr Black said.
NIGPC chair Dr Tom Black said the decision to proceed with undated resignations was taken ’with deep regret’.
’General practice is on the brink in Northern Ireland and we feel we have no alternative to proceed with collecting undated resignations from our members,’ said Dr Black.
’Continued inaction to save general practice has forced us into this situation. The work of the Northern Ireland government may have stalled, but the need to provide safe and efficient healthcare to patients has not stalled. General practice is being delivered under unsustainable conditions that we can no longer tolerate.’
A statement from the NI GPC said it was calling for:
- Investment of 10% of the Northern Ireland healthcare budget on a safe, sustainable GP service for patients;
- Training and recruitment of more GPs so practices at risk of closure can stay open and meet the needs of patients
- Reducing bureaucracy and improve IT systems so more time can be spent providing care to patients.