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Half of GPs in north claim to have unmanageable workloads

Michael McHugh

ALMOST half of Northern Ireland's GPs have reported experiencing unmanageable workloads, a BMA survey said. More than 80 per cent of doctors

called for increased funding to help develop a service which has suffered because of their heavy workload. Most said they felt consultation times were inadequate.

The BMA's GP survey is one of the largest recent tests of opinion across the profession.

Dr Tom Black, BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chairman, said: "Rising workloads and inadequate resources are clearly undermining GP services in Northern Ireland, a situation which seems to be common in many parts of the UK, as this survey shows."

Key findings included: n only one in 10 GPs (10 per cent) felt the standard 10-minute consultation was adequate n almost six out of 10 working in out-of-hours services (56 per cent) felt their workload was having a detrimental effect on the care they provided n two-thirds favoured longer consultations for certain groups of patients, including those with long-term conditions, with a fifth claiming all patients need increased time with their GP n four in five (83 per cent) said continuity of care was essential.

To improve the overall care patients receive from general practice, GPs recommended increased funding, more doctors, longer consultation times and a reduction in bureaucracy.

The Department of Health recently announced a £15 million investment in GP services.

Dr Black said less than £2m would go into core GP daytime services.

"We estimate that we need £33m recurrent funding just to bring Northern Ireland up to the UK average," he said.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Funding constraints and rising demand mean that all parts of the health and social care sector in Northern Ireland face increasing pressure.

"In spite of this, the department has been working with the BMA to make significant new investments in GP services and to continue to cut bureaucracy."

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