Northern Ireland

Doctors warn NI politicians over future of GP services

Doctor Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption GPs maintain that the future of the profession has become "unsustainable" because of problems with recruitment, funding and workloads

The chair of Northern Ireland's GP Committee (NIGPC) is challenging local politicians to either "work with or work against" members over the future of general practice.

Dr Tom Black said there needed to be an an additional £120m investment.

GPs maintain that the future of the profession has become "unsustainable" because of problems with recruitment, funding and workloads.

In December, hundreds of local GPs signed undated resignation letters.

In January, members of the British Medical Association (BMA) voted to collect undated resignations; the BBC understands the BMA is still collecting these resignations from practices.

Image caption "We have found that the only thing worse than having politicians is having no politicians" - Tom Black

In a speech later on Friday to GPs from across the UK, Dr Black is expected to tell delegates that while a plan for reform had been agreed before Christmas with the previous health minister, since the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, matters had become critical.

"We have found that the only thing worse than having politicians is having no politicians," he is expected to say.

"We need to see an investment in general practice of an additional £120m to bring us up to the level of spending in the GP Forward View."

Dr Black is also expected to say that while his members want to stay and work in the health service, they are prepared to leave if that means protecting GP services.

"These are difficult and dangerous times, fraught with risks and challenges.

"On behalf of NIGPC let me throw down this challenge to the incoming minister for health in Northern Ireland: Work with us or work against us."

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