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Federations will help practices with workload, says NI GPC chair

Joining federations will help practices cope with the high volume of work that trusts are pushing into community settings, Northern Ireland GPC chair Dr Tom Black has said.

Speaking at the annual conference of Northern Ireland LMCs in Newcastle, County Down, at the weekend, Dr Black said that federations can co-ordinate management of the workload and integrate with out-of-hours services and emergency departments to make sure patients receive good quality care.

Federations can also develop innovative services for frail older people, nursing home patients and those with complex needs, said Dr Black

He explained: ‘There has been an uncontrolled shift of work out of hospitals into primary care as part of the Transforming Your Care strategy. This transfer should have been planned, agreed and resourced but trusts are taking the opportunity to dump any work they can onto practices without any funding.’

The GPC wants to develop a network of GP federations in Northern Ireland this year, with most up and running within six months.

Dr Black added: ‘We expect there will be up to five federations in each of the four LMC areas. Local federations will seek funding for the appropriate transfer of work out of the trusts, especially if staff need to move with the work.’

‘We are not only talking about doctors but will also make increased funding of community nurses as a priority, as we need to have fully staffed primary care teams. We will also develop prescribing budgets for GP federations, with savings ploughed back into primary care.’

The Northern Ireland Government announced last week that GPs will be given a 1% pay uplift, exceeding their counterparts across the UK.

As part of the contract agreement, 263 points will be removed from the QOF, which equates to an extra £13m being transferred to the Global Sum equivalent pot.