A Derry doctor has been elected the new head of the Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland (RCGPNI).
Dr John O’Kelly, a partner with the Aberfoyle Medical Practice on Strand Road, has been a principal in general practice for the past 18 years.
His appointment comes at a particularly eventful time for general practice.
Speaking on the challenges ahead, Dr O’Kelly said: “The College is supportive of Transforming Your Care (TYC) but we would like to emphasise that we have serious concerns around the underfunding of general practice.
“News around problems facing A&E units demonstrates the need for adequately resourced GP services. General Practice needs fair and equitable funding to allow us to deliver on TYC and to ensure that patients receive the level and quality of treatment which they deserve in their local communities.”
He says that, over the next few years, with the implementation of Transforming Your Care, it is important the RCGPNI engages with members and politicians and works alongside other organisations representing health professionals to “ensure the effective involvement of General Practice in health reform.”
“I would like to use my time as chair to champion general practice, both as a career and in terms of the tangible benefits it provides to patients,” he added.
“GPs, typically, enter the profession because of the variety it provides, and because they enjoy working with people and their families.
“GPs frequently foster and develop relationships not only with individual patients and their families, but with entire communities. I want to ensure that, despite the profession coming under increasing pressures, that these key relationships are not sacrificed.”
Dr O’Kelly is the current chair of the RCGPNI Quality Committee, a member of the RCGPNI Executive Committee and has represented Northern Ireland Council at the College’s UK Council.
He has a background in respiratory health, having chaired the Western Area Respiratory Group and been a member of the Northern Ireland Regional Respiratory Forum.