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Almost £4 million in extra funding for GP practices across Northern Ireland

 Almost £4 million is to be invested in GP services across Northern Ireland

NEARLY £4 million extra is to be invested in GP practices in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

A total of £1.7 million will tackle challenges associated with the country's ageing population while £2.2 million will increase the value of the GP contract by 1%.

The health service contract provides funding to GP practices depending on the number and types of patients registered with them.

The senior civil servant at the Department of Health, permanent secretary Richard Pengelly, said: "The department recognises that primary care and GP services are the bedrock of our health and social care system."

He said the provision of a further £3.9 million follows earlier investment this year of £1.9 million for elective care like operations and £3.91 million to continue the roll out of nearly 300 practice-based pharmacists.

"Given the current difficult financial position, investing nearly £10 million more in GP services, the largest additional investment in recent years, reflects the department's commitment to the continued development of sustainable and accessible primary care services centred on the needs of patients."

The department is also introducing changes to the eligibility to the sickness leave scheme for GPs.

It is estimated these changes will save GPs more than £2.5 million per year in sickness leave insurance premiums.

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