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Northern Irish GPs fight back

BMA Northern Ireland launches campaign against budget cuts

Louise Prime

Friday, 21 January 2011

GP leaders in Northern Ireland are asking their patients to help them fight the threat that they say family practice is now facing.

BMA (Northern Ireland) has launched a “major campaign” to fight budget cuts, which they say will threaten vital services that general practice provides to local communities across the province.

BMA (NI) has issued practices with a petition and posters highlighting the problems caused by the £5m that has been slashed from general practice funding in Northern Ireland since last August. It calculates that this means an average loss of £15,000 for every practice, which it says is likely to lead to:

  • withdrawal of services
  • job losses
  • longer waiting times
  • more hospital admissions
  • longer hospital stays

The BMA is also conducting a survey of GPs across Northern Ireland to find out how much funding each practice has lost, and how they are working to alleviate the damage caused by the cuts.

Dr Brian Dunn, chair of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee in Northern Ireland, said: “We have previously highlighted this blatant cut to an essential frontline health service and are worried about the consequences.

“GPs want to be able to continue to treat patients in a safe, adequately funded environment, but patients need to be aware that one of the most important services available to them is under threat.

Dr Dunn went on: “As advocates for our patients, GPs have constantly iterated to the Minister and senior policy makers at the Health and Social Care Board their grave concerns about the loss of this essential funding.

“However we believe more cuts are coming and so we are asking patients to show their support for general practice by signing a petition, which is available in their GP’s surgery.

“It is clear that only by working together will we be able to defend general practice, a key part of the health service in our community.”

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