Public told to think before booking visit to their GP
Northern Ireland GPs have launched a campaign encouraging patients to help ease the pressure on their service by thinking twice before booking appointments.
The GPs are urging people to consider if their problem can be dealt with in another way.
The Royal College of General Practitioners NI (RCGPNI) said the workload for GPs had increased significantly in the past decade, but investment in general practice had not risen accordingly. It said the region's GPs were under "immense pressure" this winter.
The new '3 Before GP' campaign, which has been advocated by a working group made up of GPs and patients, urges people to ask themselves three questions before booking a GP appointment - can the problem be self-treated, is advice available on a reputable website, and could treatment be sought at a pharmacy.
The chairwoman of the RCGPNI's Patients in Practice group, Karen Mooney, said: "Not being able to get an appointment can be very frustrating - but while services are under pressure, we are encouraging people across the region to think carefully about the care they need and to be mindful of cancelling any booked appointments that they can no longer attend.
"We can all play our part in trying to relieve some of the pressure within our health service, and we hope that this initiative will allow GPs to spend more time with patients with more complex care needs who need it most."