RCGPNI welcomes GP priorities within new political deal

Publication date: 10 January 2020

The Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland (RCGPNI) has welcomed the publication of a draft deal aimed at restoring the Stormont Assembly.

The Secretary of State Julian Smith and Tánaiste Simon Coveney made the announcement at a news conference at Parliament Buildings late last night. The deal is currently being considered by political parties.

A major focus of the 62-page document is health and together the British and Irish governments highlight building capacity of General Practice as a priority through the ongoing rollout of multi-disciplinary teams. The long-standing vision of increasing medical school places is also proposed.

"We welcome this draft document and its efforts to get the Assembly back up and running again. The proposals to expand multi-disciplinary teams and further medical places are two key recommendations of our 2019 vision report Support Sustain Renew and we are delighted to see these same areas highlighted in the draft deal," Dr Laurence Dorman RCGPNI chair said.

"For too long patients have suffered from a broken system which is inefficient and inevitably leads to patients waiting too long for secondary care services. Only last month, the BMA and Royal Colleges took the unusual decision of calling on politicians to get back to work and put patients back at the heart of the healthcare system."

The New Decade draft text will require more analysis, however it is clear at this stage areas require further attention Dr Dorman added.

"The text of this draft deal is promising, however there are issues we have concerns about. We would like to see a true focus from government, supporting RCGP plans, to create a revitalised GP profession that is equipped to deliver change at the frontline. Seven previous health reviews over the past 20 years have highlighted the need to change and advocated providing more care in the community. These root and branch transformative changes cannot happen without strategic investment and support in GPs who remain the first point of contact for the majority of our 1.8million population.

"The proposal for new MDTs in 2021 to provide first-contact care to an extra 100,000 patients is too little and risks substantive transformation stalling. We urge any new NI Executive and Health Minister to consider rapidly scaling up implementation of this model. There are five federations receiving MDT monies out of a total of 17 and it is estimated that it will take six years to complete.  A recent RCGPNI survey highlighted that 25% of GPs intend to retire in five years which will make essential reform like this scheme impossible to implement.

"The introduction of more MDTs, in one or two areas is of course welcome. They will ensure patients get quicker access to practice services which will allow our Health and Social Care service to become more efficient and proactive in sickness prevention while reducing pressures on secondary care."

Further Information

Policy and Public Affairs Officer
Áine Magee 
020 3188 7726
07341 737 033
Aine. Magee@rcgp.org.uk 

Notes to editor

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. RCGPNI represents over 1400 members. Dr Dorman became chair of RCGPNI in November 2019.

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