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Eight in 10 patients fear for NHS amid political stalemate

The vast majority of patients in Northern Ireland say they are worried that the political stalemate in the country is hampering the NHS.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the RCGP saw 80% of respondents state they worried that political instability would delay necessary healthcare improvements.

And 84% of people surveyed agreed that more GPs are needed in Northern Ireland to meet the needs of the population.

The RCGP has reiterated its call for politicians to ‘put patients first’ and resolve the political deadlock which has now been in place for a year following the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

RCGP Northern Ireland said the ongoing political stalemate was now having a direct impact on patient care.

Chair Grainne Doran has called for urgent action to address GP shortages and workload issues before the ‘system deteriorates further’.

‘Our survey results showed that healthcare was the top priority and that patients were worried about the effect of political instability on our healthcare service.

‘This is now proving to be the case.’

She called for the implementation of the GP-led Care Review published in March 2016 to secure the future of general practice.

Top of the agenda should be GP retention, improvement of practice premises and increased support for GPs through the primary care team, she said.

‘General practice needs urgent support to make sure patients get the services they deserve. Much still needs to be done to address the shortfalls in the GP workforce, tackle increasing levels of workload and improve GP retention.

‘RCGPNI is calling on politicians to put patients first and show a united front on health and social care reform.

She added: ‘Political leaders must do the jobs they were elected to do and take action to save our health service.’

It comes as Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigned to undergo surgery for a lung condition yesterday.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, the Conservative MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, was appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May to take over the role.

In November, Mr Brokenshire had announced an increase in health spending by 5.4% in the absence of a lack of a Northern Ireland executive.

The BMA is still collecting undated resignations as several practices face closure because of a severe shortage of GPs.