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#GPnews: GP ‘goodwill’ only thing ‘keeping general practice alive’ in Northern Ireland

14:15 The goodwill of GPs is the only thing that is keeping general practice services running in Northern Ireland now, BMA’s Northern Irish GP Committee chair used the Annual NI LMC Conference keynote speech to say.

Dr Tom Black, who said this would be his last conference speech before handing over reins to his deputy Dr Alan Stout, said, this comes as NI has:

  • ‘fewer GPs per head of the population than we had in the 1950s’;
  • ‘more than 2,000 patients per WTE GP’; and
  • ‘the lowest funding of all four [UK] countries’.

‘If we were given a 50% uplift to GP funding over the next 3 years we would still lag behind England by 10%,’ said Dr Black.

He added: ‘Workload in terms of consultations has actually decreased by 500,000 over the last two years because of the workforce crisis. Other work such as prescriptions, blood tests and paperwork continues to increase.

‘Young doctors are reluctant to take up a career in general practice as they feel that the job is no longer doable’.

He highlighted the political vacuum in NI as an added cause behind the decline, and the absence of a rescue package.

He said: ‘We had a plan this time last year- the GP led care review plan and it was signed off by the minister at the time Michelle O’Neill on 23/12/2016. It hasn’t been implemented because there is no budget, no health minister and no Assembly.

‘This political vacuum has resulted in a GP service close to collapse, maintained only by the professional values, goodwill and resilience of our members.

‘This vacuum that has been left; this empty space vacated by the political class is a disgrace that has opened our community up to ridicule and mockery.’

10:50 Labour’s shadow health secretary has written to Jeremy Hunt to request an ‘urgent update’ on failures of the primary care support service provided by Capita.

The party is calling on the health secretary to ‘undertake a thorough investigation into how these sustained failings were allowed to take place under the watch of the Department of Health, and why this service was outsourced in the first place’.

It comes as the BMA’s GP Committee last week wrote to NHS England to urge it to take a ‘robust stance’ amid continuing issues with support services to GP practices, including concerns with the performers list management and payments.

Jonathan Ashworth’s letter said: ‘I’m sure that as a Secretary of State who places patient safety at the heart of your vision for our National Health Service you will be taking these warnings very seriously indeed.’

His letter comes as the Guardian ran a story about trainees missing payments, although a Capita spokesperson told Pulse there were no problems with paying trainees.

09:45 GPs are going to become ‘champions for transgender healthcare’, according to a report in the the Mail on Sunday.

It says hundreds of GPs could be trained to advice colleagues in practices on how to best treat transgender patients.

According to the Mail, the plans could ‘cost the taxpayer £1m’ and has attracted criticism.

Conservative MP David Davies said: ‘There are people out there who are suffering from gender dysphoria, but it’s a small minority of people.

‘I’m horrified that NHS money could be spent in this fashion.’

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