Dodds – “it’s essential that GP issues are resolved”

DUP Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds has responded to the Royal College of General Practitioners NI Report ‘A Workforce Fit for the Future’ by saying that the morning rush to obtain an appointment by phoning the practice is utterly unacceptable for a modern service.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Mrs Dodds, a member of the Stormont Health Committee said,

“This RCGPNI retention strategy report further emphasises that general practice needs fixed. We know patients can’t access care in a sufficiently timely manner.

We know 13 practice contracts were handed back to the Department last year, and several more already this year. We simply can’t allow this to continue happening. With 1,448 GPs on the Performers’ List, if we had an effectively-operating system, all patients in Northern Ireland ought to be able to receive a good service without unmanageable workloads or any doctor feeling overwhelmed.

Multidisciplinary teams in primary care were initially funded through money secured in the DUP Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Conservative Government. Physiotherapists, social workers and mental health practitioners were allocated to local health centres. This approach is fundamental to reform, and it is hugely disappointing that further practices have been denied the funding to have this rolled out across Northern Ireland. Funding this should have been a transformation priority. Currently only 30% of GP surgeries have a multidisciplinary team. This must be expanded if we are to sustain practices.

An increased number of GP trainees is required but many recently have been from overseas and may not remain within Northern Ireland. We have a large cohort of trained GPs in Northern Ireland who are choosing not to work in primary care, or only are working very limited hours. There is justification for a bold substantive offer that could transform work-life balance in order to incentivise the return of some of this readily available valuable existing resource.

Technology needs to be embraced and better utilised, with improved physical and digital infrastructure. The morning rush to obtain an appointment by phoning the practice is utterly unacceptable for a modern service and would not be tolerated in other walks of life.

Providing indemnity for primary care, like other parts of the UK, has taken too long and needs to be resolved without further delay”.

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