Patient care in Northern Ireland is being compromised because of a lack of resources in general practice, senior medics have warned.
Dr John O'Kelly, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners NI (RCGPNI), says a lack of investment in general practice will have "major repercussions for the rest of the NHS" and Dr Patricia Wilkie, of the National Association for Patient Participation, believes "patient care is now being compromised".
This comes as research commissioned by RCGPNI indicates that 63% of the public here believe GP workloads are a threat to the level of patient care provided.
It is warning that public confidence is low as there are pressures on resources in general practice which is facing a further squeeze in the next three years.
New research indicates funding for general practice in the UK is due to fall by 17% in real terms by 2017/18. The Deloitte figures show funding for general practice in Northern Ireland currently stands at just 7.96% in 2012/13 – lower than the UK average of 8.39%.
GPs are concerned if resources continue to plummet this will have disastrous consequences.
Dr O'Kelly said: "General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and lack of investment in it will have major repercussions for the rest of the NHS."
Dr Wilkie said: "Patient care is being compromised. There needs to be increased investment in patients and GP care in order to improve and sustain the high standards in patient care that patients need and GPs want to give."