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Funding crisis warning as pressure on our GPs grows

By Victoria O'Hara

Urgent action is needed to address growing pressures on GP surgeries across Northern Ireland caused by the current financial crisis in health, a leading doctor has warned.

Recruitment and retention of GPs, ability to take on new patients and meeting growing patient demand are all problems GP practices are experiencing.

The British Medical Association in Northern Ireland says GP surgeries need funding on a long-term basis to alleviate the strain.

The pressure on GPs comes against a background of deepening cuts after the Department of Health received only a fraction of the £160 million it requested in the June budget allocation.

In August it was revealed that the department faced a £140m shortfall in the funds it needed, but in the October budget allocation just £60m was awarded.

BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair Tom Black said family doctors were heading into a "crisis situation".

Dr Black, who is based in Londonderry, said a quick fix will not do and a long-term solution was needed.

"It is clear that urgent action is needed to alleviate the pressures being experienced in GP surgeries across Northern Ireland," he said.

"GPs are heading into a crisis situation which must be addressed urgently.

"The fact of the matter is that GP services need to be core-funded on a long-term basis."

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