All political parties must make investing in general practice a ‘key priority’ in their election manifesto, the Royal College of GPs in Northern Ireland has said.
Ahead of the Northern Ireland Assembly election on 5 May, RCGP NI has set out a ‘prescription’ to help general practice, which is currently ‘struggling to meet’ patient needs.
The six-point plan addresses the ‘unique opportunity’ to support GPs, the RCGP said.
The RCGP NI called for:
- At least 11% of the Department of Health budget to go towards general practice;
- All political parties to prioritise the rollout of multi-disciplinary teams;
- ‘Unsustainable’ GP workload to be addressed;
- Increased GP training places and expansion of the workforce;
- GPs to have enough time and resources to train medical students;
- A guarantee that general practice has ‘physical premises and digital infrastructure’ that are ‘fit for purpose’.
RCGP NI chair and Kilkeel GP Dr Laurence Dorman said: ‘Following decades of underinvestment, we find ourselves in a very difficult place and regrettably, are struggling to meet the needs of our patients.
‘Despite successive expert reviews highlighting the need for further investment, the funding to deliver real change in general practice has never followed.’
He added: ‘As we approach the Northern Ireland Assembly election on the 5th of May, we are asking politicians to invest in general practice, to make sure there are enough GPs to provide timely care and access for patients and that they have surgeries fit for that purpose.
‘We have a unique opportunity to redress years of underfunding and support our GPs and their practice teams to deliver care in the community, meet the needs of our patients and tackle worsening health inequalities.’
It comes as health minister Robin Swann confirmed that ten more GP training places will be offered in Northern Ireland for the 2022/23 academic year.
Last month, Mr Swann told Pulse in an exclusive interview that the current GP model is not offering a work-life balance.
He also said the narrative around access is placing an ‘unfair’ strain on GPs.