Save Our Surgeries
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The British Medical Association Northern Ireland (BMANI) have been warning for 2 years now that GP practices in Northern Ireland are in very real danger of collapse in the immediate and short term and warned in a recent report that rural practices are at particular risk.
They also went on to warn that if very real action is not taken and more funding is not made available it would lead to GP's retiring and resigning and leaving tens of thousands of people without a GP to call on when they are needed thus having to rely on already overstretched out-of-hours and A&E departments.
So far no plan to prevent this, despite BMANI warnings, has been put in place by The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) or the Health Minister. Instead, they seem to be, so far, content with firefighting a shortage of GP's as they occur. This situation was seen in Portadown, recently, where the last remaining GP in The Bannview Practice in the Portadown Health Centre resigned due to extreme workloads and not being able to find replacement GP's or locums.
UPDATE 15 March 2017
BMA have asked their GP members to to sign and send in and undated resignation letters to The NHS which could mean that if they do resign then we could be left with the majority if not ll our GP's going to private only which will mean you will have to pay for your GP appointments.
We, therefore, demand the following as recommended by The BMA
1. Produce a clear, credible and sustainable plan to recruit and train more GPs for Northern Ireland.
2. Commitment from the Minister for Health to funding for general practice at a minimum of 10% of the health budget and to rebalance health resources to where care is delivered.
3. Provision of a fund for general practice to provide emergency support to vulnerable practices at risk of collapse or where safe patient care is compromised such as out-of-hours.
4. Establish a task force to provide support to vulnerable or at risk practices which could include the provision of management resources, clinical input, proactive support that can be called in at short notice. This should be developed in liaison with the Local Medical Committees (LMCs).
5. Set a maximum number of patients that GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals can reasonably care for.
6. Support and fund GP Federations to provide locality hubs to which practices can refer urgent patients when they have reached the threshold for safe care on any given day.
7. Establish a list of services that are not included in the core GMS contract which practices can choose if they wish to provide.
8. Develop guidance for ensuring that secondary care work is not passed onto GP practices.
9. Review and reduce the bureaucracy on general practice in areas such as QOF and appraisals.
10. Ensure information technology is fit-for-purpose and resourced. For example online / phone triage / AskMyGP.
11. Fund an expanded and comprehensive primary care team to reduce and relieve GPs workload, including mental health practitioners, health visitor, advanced nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and physician associates.
12. Invest in GP out-of-hours service to enable an expanded and sustainable clinical workforce, addressing issues such as indemnity costs.
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