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GP 'brain drain' on the cards

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 16/04/2015

Northern Ireland is at risk of a GP 'brain drain' if measures are not taken to address the crisis in general practice, it has been warned
Northern Ireland is at risk of a GP 'brain drain' if measures are not taken to address the crisis in general practice, it has been warned

Northern Ireland is at risk of a GP 'brain drain' if measures are not taken to address the crisis in general practice, it has been warned. The Royal College of GPs here made the stark prediction as general practices face unparalleled workload pressures, partially caused by the family doctor shortage in the region.

The warning came as a panel of senior doctors representing the BMA (British Medical Association) told Stormont's Health Committee unless action is taken to improve working conditions, the "brightest" young GPs will leave.

They voiced serious concerns that the "perfect storm" of problems, including a crisis in doctor levels, were not being prioritised by Stormont. Despite three major reports making recommendations to improve conditions, none had been implemented and 53% of GPs across the region recently said the level of work was too heavy at times with 40% describing it as unmanageable.

Nearly six out of 10 GPs working in out of hours services felt their workload was having a detrimental impact on the care they provide. A second BMA major survey also showed that only 45% of GPs here would recommend general practice as a career.

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