GPs in Northern Ireland call on politicians to 'put patients first and save our health service'

Publication date: 09 January 2018

GPs in Northern Ireland are calling on politicians to 'put patients first' and resolve the year of political deadlock following the collapse of the NI Assembly.

The Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland claims that the stalemate is now having a direct impact on patient care and preventing urgent healthcare improvements.

The College wants urgent action to address GP shortages and workload issues so that patients can receive the care and services they need in their communities, before the 'system deteriorates further'.

The call is supported by a YouGov poll, commissioned by the College, in which over 80% of people said they were worried that political instability would delay necessary healthcare improvements.

In the same poll, more than four-fifths (84%) of people agreed that more family doctors were needed in Northern Ireland to meet the healthcare needs of the population.

RCGPNI Chair, Dr Grainne Doran, said: "Our survey results showed that healthcare was the top priority and that patients were worried about the effect of political instability on our healthcare service. This is now proving to be the case."

In March 2016, the Department of Health published the GP-led Care Review. This report outlines the necessary actions, as determined by primary care stakeholders, that need to be implemented to secure the future of general practice.

While acknowledging the funding of increased GP training places, the College says that significant work still needs to be done around the retention of trained GPs across Northern Ireland. The report also contains other important issues that are still outstanding, such as improvement of practice premises and increased support for GPs through the primary care team.  

Dr Doran continued: "General practice needs urgent support to make sure patients get the services they deserve. Much still needs to be done to address the shortfalls in the GP workforce, tackle increasing levels of workload and improve GP retention.

"RCGPNI is calling on politicians to put patients first and show a united front on health and social care reform. We must not let our system deteriorate further. 

"Political leaders must do the jobs they were elected to do and take action to save our health service."

Further Information

Clare Higgins
07341 737 033 / 0203 188 7726

Notes to editor

  1. The Royal College of General Practitioners was actively involved in the development of the GP-led Care Working Group Report. The report can be accessed at:
  2. All figures presented in this press notice, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 502 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 21st February 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Northern Ireland (aged 18+).
  3. The Royal College of General Practitioners is the largest membership organisation in the United Kingdom solely for GPs. It aims to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and to act as the 'voice' of GPs on issues concerned with education; training; research; and clinical standards. Founded in 1952, the RCGP has just over 50,000 members who are committed to improving patient care, developing their own skills and promoting general practice as a discipline. RCGP NI represent over 1300 members in Northern Ireland.

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