Northern Ireland’s government has pledged £900,000 in new funding to help GP practices form federations.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Michelle O’Neill announced the funding, which will go into the development of 17 federations, following crisis talks between GPC leader Dr Tom Black and the Government.
The move has been welcomed by the RCGP in Northern Ireland, but GP leaders have warned that the funding package would not be enough to solve the problems faced by GPs in the region.
Dr John O’Kelly, RCGPNI chair, said: ’The College has been calling on the Minister to take immediate action to address the crisis facing general practice here. While we are happy to see some action from the Minister and welcome the additional £900,000 funding for GP Federations, there is much more work to be done to make general practice sustainable and ensure patients have access to high quality services.
’We need to see much greater investment for general practice and we will continue to urge the Minister to fully implement the recommendations from the GP-led working group report.’
The RCGPNI met with O’Neill last week to discuss the challenges facing general practice and presented her with a letter signed by 160 GPs from across the region calling for urgent action to address diminished workforce, increasing workload and lack of investment in general practice.
GPs in Northern Ireland have repeatedly called for extra funding to cope with the volume of patients they have to see. The patient to GP ratio in Northern Ireland is higher than anywhere else in the UK.
In February the BMA argued that Northern Irish general practice would need £33 million a year in recurrent extra funding to bring it up to the UK average.