Primary care will see an investment of £26.76m in Northern Ireland as part of the contract for the year 2019/2020, the Department of Health has announced.
The figure is a 22% increase on last year’s funding allocation, which was around £22m.
The funding includes up to £3.9m for GP premises, £18.17m for the continuation of transformation projects that were initiated in 2018/2019, including £11.1m for the roll-out of multi-disciplinary teams and £3.5million for a range of elective care services delivered through general practice.
The investment also includes £2.5m for demography and other general practice pressures.
The Department of Health’s permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, said: ‘This further investment builds on the £37.7m of additional funding invested in GP and related services over the last 2 years.
‘These significant investments reflect the crucial role general practice has in delivering health and social care to meet the needs of patients now and into the future.’
The BMA Northern Ireland GP Committee welcomed the investment. Committee chair, Dr Alan Stout, pointed to past funding that has helped distribute GP workload to other health staff such as nurses, practitioners, physios, social workers, mental health support staff and pharmacists.
He said: ‘This increased investment will mean that more GP practices will be able to begin the process of transforming the way they deliver services.
‘We also welcome the increased funding for GP premises which will be fundamental to providing sustained and enhanced primary care, along with the other areas such as elective care services that will be so important in how we transform and change how we think about and deliver healthcare in the future.’
Dr Stout added the new money will give hope to GPs in a ‘challenging’ time.
He said: ‘The past few years have been very challenging for general practice, with many GPs feeling disillusioned and despondent.
‘As a profession, we always strive to provide the best possible service to patients and this announcement, along with completion of the roll-out of MDTs in the next few years, will help sustain primary care and enable it to become a strong foundation for the future of delivering and transforming care to the whole population.’
It follows the news that one in five training places in Northern Ireland remain unfilled this year.