RCGPNI Chair comments on release of Northern Ireland Audit Office report on Access to General Practice in Northern Ireland

On the release of the Northern Ireland Audit Office report "Access to General Practice in Northern Ireland", Dr Ursula Mason, a GP in Carryduff and Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland, commented:

"On behalf of our members, I welcome the recognition in the Northern Ireland Audit Office report of the extreme pressures that general practice is under, but this cannot become yet another call to action to save NHS general practice that goes unanswered."

"This report brings together some extremely sobering statistics and lays bare everything that we have known for many years. As GPs, we hear and feel our communities' frustrations day and daily around the mismatch between the overwhelming demand on our services and what our overstretched teams are able to safely deliver within the workforce and resources at their disposal."

"The findings highlight some of the major reasons why we as GPs are facing these challenges. The fact that we have seen a further five practices make the difficult decision to hand back their contracts in the last few weeks alone speaks to the crisis point we have reached."

"We know that we will need significant transformation and longer-term solutions, particularly around workforce planning and how our services are funded. However, what we need right now is for the Health Minister and the Department of Health to step in to limit the damage and address the urgent destabilising factors, enabling us to preserve and protect the services we have before it is too late." 

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Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.