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GP practices set to benefit as part of £100m boost for health services


Welcome: Dr John D Woods

Welcome: Dr John D Woods

Welcome: Dr John D Woods

GP practices are set to benefit from a £15m funding boost aimed at easing demand pressures on hospitals.

Details of the £100m Health and Social Care transformation funding package were unveiled today by the Department of Health.

The investments will see £15m rolled out across primary care, which is largely provided by general practices.

This will include some £5m for the Multi Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) which will involve the establishment of practice-based physiotherapists, mental health specialists and social workers working alongside doctors and nurses.

The roll-out of MDTs this year will cover two areas initially, each serving in the region of 100,000 people.

Developing the MDTs is to provide more care closer to patients' homes and to ease pressure on hospitals across Northern Ireland.

It is hoped that any success in the MDT pilot areas will lead to the initiative being extended to GP practices across Northern Ireland in the "years ahead".

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Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, Dr John D Woods from the British Medical Association said: "Additional funding for our health service is always welcome, and this is particularly the case in general practice where a lack of investment has badly damaged the service and left GP services, particularly those in rural areas, on the brink of collapse."

Further projected investments under the £100m transformation funding include £15m for workforce development in the Health and Social Care (HSC) sector.

More details are set to be released later this week with the publication of the department's workforce strategy - a blueprint addressing the key HSC workforce challenges and opportunities.

Up to £30m is earmarked for reforming community and hospital services, including mental health and pharmacy.

This funding will help key services including cancer, stroke, paediatric, medicines optimisation and diabetes care and prevention. Investment in plans for elective care centres - stand-alone surgery units - is aimed at tackling hospital waiting times.

A further £5m will be spent on building capacity in communities and prevention, including significant investment in children's social services to fund a new approach to working with parents and families and to provide a different offer to children in care to better meet their needs.

It was recently announced that £30m of the funding package for 2018 and 2019 will be targeted at reducing hospital waiting times. This cash injection will allow up to a further 24,000 outpatient assessments and approximately 7,400 treatments to be carried out, along with 19,000 diagnostics to reduce numbers waiting longer than 26 weeks.

In addition, an estimated 24,000 Allied Health Professional assessments can be provided to reduce the current backlog of patients waiting longer than 13 weeks, mainly for physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

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