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Put party politics aside to save general practice, RCGP tells NI leaders

The chair of RCGP Northern Ireland has written an open letter to political party leaders calling on them to take action to support general practice ‘regardless of the outcome of the impending election’.

It comes amid the collapse of the power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland, which, as Pulse revealed last week, has thrown plans for a rescue deal for general practice into doubt.

Dr Grainne Doran calls on political leaders to ‘put patients first’ and commit their party to support ‘the necessary reform of health and social care in Northern Ireland and to support the future of general practice’.

Dr Doran emphasised that ‘patients and GPs simply do not have the luxury of another 12 months before we see progress on the ground’.

The letter references the ‘alarming series of events’ in Portadown, where the 5,200-patient Bannview Medical Practice handed back its contract in November after losing all four GPs, with the other practices in the town ‘teetering on the brink’.

A contractor had been found to start in March but has since withdrawn, leaving the practice and the whole town in limbo. 

She added: ‘Promises are not enough. Verbal commitments will not save Bannview and the many other practices across the region that are struggling to recruit and retain family doctors to meet the growing needs of our patients.’   

The letter ends: ‘We need you to rise to the challenge and invest in the future of our health service in real terms. You have the power to change the future. Work with us to make sure patients get the care and support they deserve.’

GPC Northern Ireland has devised a ‘plan B’ to take GP practices out of the NHS after failing to get the issues of general practice addressed by Government.