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Northern Irish Government reviewing GP numbers

The Northern Irish Government is reviewing the country’s GP workforce amid concerns that too few graduates are entering general practice.

The outgoing health minister Jim Wells, who is resigning after making offensive comments about gay people, has said the review is looking at the medical workforce, including undergraduate intake.

He told the Northern Irish Assembly: ‘The Health and Social Care Board is undertaking some work specifically on GP workforce planning.’

Commenting on the plans, NI GPC chair Tom Black told BMA News that ‘despite repeated workforce reviews’ there has been no increase in GP numbers.

He said: ‘General practice [in NI] has the lowest funding per patient in the UK and spending at £125 per patient per year is insufficient to maintain services.

‘We need to train at least 111 GPs per year in Northern Ireland and yet, despite repeated workforce reviews advising an increase in training numbers, there has been no increase.’

NI GPC has highlighted a dire situation on GP recruitment that saw only 33 trainees completing their training in 2014, out of 65 who were due to do so.

The Northern Irish Government announced a £15m investment in GP services last month, although some was in form of loans to practices to upgrade premises.


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