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Northern Ireland general practice needs ‘25% funding boost to achieve parity’

The chair of Northern Ireland BMA has used his annual conference speech to say general practice requires an additional 25% funding just to ‘achieve parity’ with other parts of the UK.

Council chair Dr John Woods, a consultant in renal medicine in Belfast, told delegates at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting that in both primary and secondary care ‘morale is low and Northern Ireland is becoming a less attractive place to work for all doctors’.

He said: ‘Services, already underfunded, face austerity-commanded cuts. Waiting lists are increasing to levels not seen for several years. We have a general practice service that requires an additional 25% funding just to achieve parity with other parts of the UK.’

Dr Woods hit out at the lack of engagement at the Northern Ireland Department of Health with the BMA.

He said the failure to engage ‘undervalues our members’ experience, and misses the opportunity to make genuine, effective changes to improve services’.

He added: ‘They need to involve us more often, more effectively. We should not have to continually knock on their door. Let’s have a culture of genuine partnership working with doctors that leads to changes that benefit patients.’

Despite these difficulties Dr Woods highlighted Northern Ireland’s success in primary care over the past year.

Dr Woods said: ‘Under the leadership of Dr Tom Black, not-for-profit GP federations have been established and are up and running across Northern Ireland… A doctor-led response to the funding, workload and workforce crises in general practice.’

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