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GPs fear Northern Ireland budget imposition



Plans for the UK Government to impose a budget on Northern Ireland after the latest power-sharing talks broke down is the ‘worst of all worlds’ for general practice, according to the countries leading GP.

Dr Tom Black told Pulse that having the budget signed off but with no direct rule meant there would be no one to solve the severe problems facing the NHS.

‘If we thought things were bad they just got a lot worse,’ he said.

‘We have no assembly and now we have a budget being passed without resorting to direct rule.

‘We have primary and secondary care in crisis but none of the responsible politicians in Belfast or London feel that they’re actually responsible to the extent that they might actually do a days work on fixing the problems.’

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire said he would take steps to introduce a budget bill to Parliament because public services were running out of resources.

There has been a 10-month deadlock that has left civil servants in charge but unable to make key policy decisions.

While Dr Black said he would prefer a local politician, in the absence of an assembly, Westminster needed to step in and start making strategic decisions.

‘The body politic of Northern Ireland is a disgrace and the government in London need to step up and assume their responsibilities.

‘I need a politician from somewhere to take strategic decisions.

‘There appears to be no hope of implementing the GP rescue plan or starting the transformation of the health service that’s needed.’

A rescue plan for general practice was signed off by ministers in December 2016 but the collapse of the power sharing government has meant no further action.

The BMA is still collecting undated resignations from practices after the profession voted unanimously to walk away from the NHS.