The RCGP is lobbying politicians to push for funding to be taken away from A&E and be invested in repairing and rebuilding GP premises and tackling GP shortages.
RCGP Northern Ireland chair Dr John O’Kelly has told representatives from the Social Democratic and Labour Party, The Alliance Party and the Democratic Unionist Party that there are too many A&Es and that money should be transferred from certain A&E services into primary care.
Dr O’Kelly wants them to adopt RCGP campaigns as part of their manifestos for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections next May and to create better career structures and training for practice nurses.
Dr O’Kelly told Pulse regarding the premises issue: ‘There is money tied up in NHS buildings, including A&Es, when it could be better spent on primary care, including GP practices.
‘We’ve got too many hospitals for a population of 1.9 million people. We’ve got 11 acute hospitals. I’m not necessarily saying we should knock A&Es down but we need to use the buildings more effectively. A&E attendances have hardly risen in recent times, but demand for GP out-of-hours services has risen by 18%.’
He said of practice nurse training: ‘We don’t have any nurses coming out of universities having had experience of GP practice work on their placements.’
None of the three parties has yet finalised its manifesto. A spokesperson for the SDLP said: ‘We are considering the views of Dr O’Kelly and we will be filtering them into our discussions about what to include in the manifesto.’
Dr O’Kelly is hoping to set up a meeting imminently with Sinn Fein officials.