Northern Ireland

Number of GP surgeries falls by 11%

There were 312 active at the end of March

Almost a quarter of Britons tried and failed to see their GP face to face in 2023, the Liberal Democrats have claimed
The Western Trust had the largest proportionate decrease in GP practices between 2014 and 2024 (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The number of GP surgeries across the north have fallen by 11% in the last decade, according to the latest figures.

There were 312 active practices at the end of March this year compared to 350 in 2014.

The Western Trust had the largest decrease at 18% with the smallest in the Southern Trust with 7%.

In the same period, the total number of registered patients has increased by around 20%, from 5,500 to 6,586.

Of the 2,055,000 individuals registered with a GP at the end of March, 21% are in Belfast making it the largest patient population.

The Health and Social Care’s Business Services Organisation has today published its General Medical Services for Northern Ireland, Annual Statistics
The HSC’s Business Services Organisation published its General Medical Services for Annual Statistics for 2023/24

Despite the reduction in practices, the number of GPs, excluding locums, has increased by 23% to 1,454 since 2014.

Of these 60% are female, a notable shift since 2014 when the majority 54% were male.

During 2023/24, BSO processed £347m of payments towards the overall cost of GP services in Northern Ireland.

The average payment was £169, an increase of £6 per patient, or 4%, since 2022/2023 and over one-third (36%) more than in 2017/18 when the figure stood at £124.

Dr Alan Stout, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland general practitioners committee, said: “These figures give clear evidence of the growing pressures on GP practices, with growing population and increasing complexity at a time of a decline in the number of practices.

“The increased, and now majority, number of our workforce that are female is a real success that we hope to see continue.”

At UK level, Scotland has the highest number of GPs per 100,000 registered population at 75 followed by 71 in Northern Ireland. This compares to 62 GPs per 100,000 registered population in Wales and 57 in England.

Of the 52,000 new patients registered in Northern Ireland last year 26% were non-UK nationals ranging from 35% in the Belfast to 17% in Lisburn and Castlereagh.