Northern Ireland

Department of Health’s extra £122m ‘will not alleviate GP pressures’

Money has been allocated to department in monitoring round

Leading doctors said that it is ‘ridiculous’ that GPs are struggling to find work while patients are facing difficulties in accessing care
General Practise in Northern Ireland remains under significant pressure, it has been warned. (Lynne Cameron/PA)

The extra £122m being given to Stormont’s Department of Health in this week’s recent mini-budget will not stabilise GP services in the north, it has been warned.

The sum is part of a £300m pot of funding from Westminster that the north’s finance minister Caoimhe Archibald has said will “mitigate the worst impacts” of Stormont’s budget situation.

Other departments to receive money include Education, which will get £88m.

However, the chair of the Royal College of General Practice in Northern Ireland has said the funding falls short of what is needed for GP provision.

Dr Ursula Mason said any further funding to the health service is to be welcomed, “but the reality is that the additional resource from the monitoring round will not alleviate the pressures in general practice”.

“The budget presents a worrying outlook for general practice, and any cuts to services will have a significant impact on our patients, our practices and the NHS in Northern Ireland as a whole,” she said.

“General practice in Northern Ireland receives just 5.4% of the health spend, and even before this budget, we have called for an increase in the proportion of funding, considering the vital role that our practices play in delivering healthcare to our communities.

Dr Mason warned that further cuts to general practice in the north “will only exacerbate the existing health inequalities and would be disproportionately harmful and wide-ranging, most notably felt by the most vulnerable in our society”.