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South Antrim DUP MLA secured an Urgent Oral Question to the Health Minister on concerns around face-to-face access to local GP services.

Vice Chair of the Health Committee, Pam Cameron MLA, has welcomed an additional £1 million being allocated to assist with pressures facing General Practices.

Speaking following the announcement, Pam Cameron said

“I recognise that GP services have been under pressure throughout this pandemic. More funding is welcome news for practices and their patients, but better organisation and communication is also needed to address chaos.

GP services are a vital cornerstone of our Health Service. Accessibility to them, particularly given the pandemic, is ever more crucial. From speaking with many GPs, it is clear that their increasing workloads and the challenges due to COVID-19 are significant.

There have been increasing numbers of complaints from the public in certain areas trying to get through to their local GP by telephone. I have serious concerns that health issues could be missed and that patients are instead turning to Emergency Departments to receive face-to-face diagnosis. I have highlighted this problem in the Assembly and will be seeking further reassurance from the Health Minister on tackling the problems experienced by some patients trying to get in contact with particular practices.

I was however pleased to hear from the Minister that face-to-face GP appointments have been steadily increasing from a figure of around 4,500 per day in mid-May to 8,000 by mid-August. Work to increase this further must continue earnestly.

General Practices remain 'open for business' and the public should not hesitate to contact their GP when necessary. GPs do a sterling service for their communities but the Health Minister must work with them further to increase accessibility and resource available to local practices.”