GPs warn of 'full-blown' catastrophe in practices unless more cash is invested
Family doctors here are on "the edge of a full-blown crisis", it has been claimed.
Research carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA) showed that 74% of practices were struggling and 10% were "barely coping".
The BMA said the study showed the pressure GPs were under as regards growing waiting lists, with many practices struggling to cope despite the growing use of locums.
The organisation called on the Government to urgently address the problems faced by general practice here.
The GP federation model, developed by the Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee went some way to addressing the situation, the BMA said, but it also called for additional long-term investment.
Chair of the committee Dr Tom Black said the problems could not continue.
"We knew the situation was bad, but the research showed clearly that primary care here is on the edge of a full-blown crisis," he added.
"GPs all across Northern Ireland reported problems, but the situation was particularly bad for smaller, single-handed and rural practices that have fewer GPs working in them and who are also struggling to fill vacancies.
"We must find ways of securing general practice in the short-term and evolve to a modern, sustainable model of general practice for the future to allow us to provide a service that meets the needs of patients."
His warning came as it emerged that proposals to open a second medical school here would be discussed at a BMA health conference at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on June 20.
A petition will also be distributed to all surgeries in Northern Ireland, outlining the long list of difficulties faced by GPs and also encouraging patients to support their local doctors by signing the petition.