West Belfast to benefit from roll-out of additional support services in GP surgeries
WEST Belfast is to become the latest area to benefit from the recruitment of extra health professionals to work alongside GPs in surgeries.
The new 'multi-disciplinary' teams based at several surgeries across west Belfast will see nine physiotherapists, a service manager, and a project manager hired to support patients, in addition to care already provided by GPs.
The initiative was rolled out earlier this year in counties Derry and Down.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that "given the positive response to recruitment in these areas, the decision has been taken to move ahead in west Belfast as well."
Northern Ireland's waiting lists are the worst in the entire NHS and it is hoped the initiative will help reduce pressures in hospitals.
The scheme has been funded through an overall £100 million 'transformation' pot made available through the confidence-and-supply agreement between the DUP and the Conservatives last June.
Dr Alan Stout, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Northern Ireland GP Committee, welcomed the extension.
"This model – where services that can really help patients like physiotherapy and mental health services are based in the GP surgery – benefits both patients and GPs," he said.
"For some time we have been highlighting the many issues facing general practice including ever increasing workload.
"Developments like this help make sure that GPs are only seeing patients they really need to see and improve the daily working lives of GPs and improve care and access for patients."