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General practice 'in crisis' amid GP shortage

More than 400 new GPs need to be trained in the next five years, a leading body has warned
Staff Reporter

AROUND 400 more GPs are needed in the north by 2020, a leading health body has warned.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said general practice is in crisis and insisted that doctors must be allowed allowed more time to see patients.

The body's chairman, Dr John O'Kelly, said resources should be directed away from hospitals and towards general practice.

"We are asking for an increase in the percentage of NHS budget given to GP practices, for instance 11 per cent more of the budget, so that we can deliver a quality GP service. This is not about more money," he said.

Dr O'Kelly said the political turmoil at Stormont had not helped the problem.

"What we are asking for is for politicians to sort their differences out and to work with us and the health service to deliver a service that is fit and better for patients and of a quality that the public deserve," he said.

A new RCGP document on the GP shortage makes several recommendations including setting a target for the number of GPs in the north, improving recruitment and retention of GPs and encouraging doctors who have left the north to return.

He said an additional 46 people a year need to be trained as GPs in order to cope with an ageing population.

In the Republic, nurse staffing levels are at crisis point, a conference heard yesterday.

There are more than 1,500 vacancies, particularly in the specialised elderly care sector.

Managing Director of PCQ Nurse Recruitment Paul Chandler many graduates have left for jobs in the UK, Canada and America and the Republic has been forced to recruit staff from abroad.

The HSE said it launched a new recruitment campaign in July to attract around 500 more nurses and midwives working in the UK and elsewhere.

So far, 339 applications have been received and 56 nurses have accepted jobs.

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