20 GP training places created to ease pressure on practices
Twenty additional GP training places are to be created to ease pressure on practices in Northern Ireland, the health minister said.
The £1.2 million investment is intended to help overhaul the oldest GP workforce in the UK.
Minister Simon Hamilton said: "With increasing demand from an ageing population it is vital we continue to invest in our workforce if we are to ensure people can get an appointment with their GP when they need to."
GPs have raised concerns about increasing workloads and difficulties in attracting doctors in recent times amid efforts to move care from a hospital to community setting.
Mr Hamilton added: "This investment of £1.2 million per year in 20 additional GP training places is the most significant investment in GP training in over a decade."
He said the announcement builds on the planned creation of practice-based pharmacists, which will see GPs supported by their medical colleagues.
Chairman of the Northern Ireland general practitioners committee of the BMA, Dr Tom Black, said: "We are pleased to see an additional 20 training places for GPs in Northern Ireland and we would hope to see even more training places being funded over the coming years.
"We face difficulties with attracting GPs to work in rural areas, an ever increasing workload both in the number of patients we see and the increasing complexity of the health problems we are dealing with.
"By increasing the number of training places we have taken a positive step towards alleviating these pressures."