RCGPNI response to NI Budget 2021/22

Representing more than 1,400 general practitioners, RCGPNI Chair, Dr Laurence Dorman has expressed concern about the Department of Health budget announced yesterday, saying it does not provide the funding needed to meet the challenges in general practice.

Responding to the budget announcement, Dr Dorman commented:

"It is clear that the whole health and social care system across Northern Ireland is under huge pressure. While we recognise the constraints the NI Executive operate under, this budget does not provide the funding needed to meet the current and future challenges and demonstrates a lack of ambition for general practice.

“GPs across Northern Ireland are under immense pressure and this did not start with COVID-19. Our members are working harder than they have before, with significant workforce gaps meaning there are simply not enough GPs to cope with rising demand. The lack of capacity and workload pressures means that too often patients are not getting the care they need. We recognise this is unacceptable, but we need support and investment to be able to deliver an improved service for patients.

"Time and time again, expert led reports, such as Donaldson and Bengoa, have made it clear we cannot transform our health service without investing in general practice. It is vitally important that the limited funding available is spent on transforming our health service, to ensure it is sustainable and fit for purpose for future generations. This cannot be achieved without a significant investment in primary care, which unfortunately this budget does not deliver.

"We are particularly concerned that there is no capacity within this budget or any sense of urgency to roll out the multidisciplinary team (MDT) model in General Practice. A key part of New Decade, New Approach deal was the further roll-out of MDTs to another 100,000 patients by March 2021. This has not been achieved and the budget allocation to general practice does not provide for much beyond a standstill.

“Expanding the programme to 100,000 more patients would be a welcome step forward in the short term and would allow more of our population access to additional healthcare professionals, such as mental health workers or physiotherapists, within their own practice. However, it would not fully address the deficit in patient access across the country and the resultant inequalities. Investment in general practice is essential to deliver health service transformation and the lack of progress is deeply concerning.

"We urge the Government to commit additional, long-term and recurrent funding to primary care, to accelerate the roll-out of the MDT project in general practice and take action to tackle serious workforce and workload challenges. Investing in community care is the only way to deliver care for patients and address the current inequalities in health service delivery.”

Further information

(For media only)

Cliona McCarney, RCGP NI Policy and Public Affairs Manager

0203 188 7726 


Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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.