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GPs in Northern Ireland urged to hand in resignation letters over 'escalating crisis' in primary care

The British Medical Association says the Department of Health needs to take urgent action to save general practice

Published 28/09/2016

GPs in Northern Ireland are being asked to submit undated resignations.
GPs in Northern Ireland are being asked to submit undated resignations.

The British Medical Association Northern Ireland is asking GPs to consider submitting undated resignation letters to the Department of Health in an effort to force the department to take urgent action on “an escalating crisis facing general practice”.

The decision follows a motion taken at the Local Medical Committee Meeting (LMC) in March to seek undated resignations if the government failed to negotiate a rescue package within six months.

The BMA will now organise a series of roadshows for members in order to gather opinion and gain consensus on action.

Individual GPs will be asked to consider signing an undated resignation letter and submitting it to the doctors’ union on the understanding that when there is a critical mass of members, the BMA will move forward to mass resignations of practices from their contracts.

More: Executive "sleep-walking" towards primary care crisis

Speaking about the move, Dr Tom Black, Chair of the BMA’s Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee has said urgent action needs to be taken to save general practice.

“There is an escalating crisis facing general practice in Northern Ireland; an ever increasing workload, a diminishing workforce, reduced funding and a failing and unsafe Out of Hours service (OHH),” Dr Black commented.

“We, as a group, have worked hard on behalf of all GPs to persuade the Department of Health to make general practice a priority for investment.

“However the urgent action we believe that needs to be taken by the Department to save general practice, for example by increasing the number of GP training places to 111 and increasing the funding for general practice, has just not happened.”

He continued: “The situation in Northern Ireland is much worse than the rest of the UK. In England, for example, the General Practice Forward View has pledged significant additional funding, we have not had the same level of commitment from the government here.

Dr Tom Black, Chair of the BMA’s Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee, says there is an escalating crisis facing general practice in Northern Ireland.
Dr Tom Black, Chair of the BMA’s Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee, says there is an escalating crisis facing general practice in Northern Ireland.

“Without these changes, general practice will collapse. We have therefore no choice but to take drastic action.”

The  Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee is calling for a rescue plan for collapsing practices, in-hours and Out of Hours services.

It is also calling for the immediate implementation of recommendations of the working group of the GP-led Primary Care Services in Northern Ireland and a full commitment to transforming the NHS in Northern Ireland into the service the public needs.

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