‘Disaster’ if GPs depart the NHS

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.
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SDLP Health spokesperson Mark H Durkan has warned that a large scale departure of GPs from the Health Service would be a “disaster”.

Mr Durkan said that such a development would “further entrench the critical issues” facing patients in the north.

A warning was issued this week that GPs may vote to leave the NHS because a rescue package aimed at helping address a mounting crisis over workloads and waiting lists may now not be implemented at Stormont due to the election being triggered. GPs are expected to announce whether they intend to resign from the NHS in the coming days.

Mr Durkan said: “News that hundreds of GPs are considering resigning because an emergency rescue package can no longer be implemented as a result of the collapse of the institutions is extremely worrying.

“Protecting public health is the first priority of any government. Our health service is in the middle of a waiting list crisis, a primary care crisis and a GP service crisis.

“The election cannot be a six week holiday from those issues. Political posturing or party politicking must come second to protecting public health.”

Mr Durkan urged Health Minister Michelle O’Neill to meet with health service professionals immediately to address the situation.

The chairperson of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Grainne Doran, yesterday issued an open letter to all political parties warning of “grave challenges”, and “GP morale plummeting”.

Dr Doran said that commitments by Ministers aimed at tackling the problems “must be funded as a matter of urgency.“ She added: “Doctors are working under immense pressure to try to care for patients in their community - but there is only so much good will and so much extra work that doctors can offer before they burn out.”