The overwhelming majority of GPs who attended a crisis meeting in Derry this week to discuss the escalating crisis in general practice say they are willing to begin the process of leaving the health service.
The meeting, which attracted GPs from across the region, was called by the British Medical Association Northern Ireland’s General Practitioners Committee (NIGPC).
Of the GPs in attendance, 89% agreed that they are willing to sign an undated resignation from the health service in order to prevent its complete collapse.
The decision to ask GPs to consider undated resignations follows a motion taken at a meeting of the Local Medical Committee (LMC) in March where doctors voted in favour of seeking support for such mass action if the Department of Health failed to negotiate a rescue package for primary care within six months.
NIGPC is calling on the Minister for Health to ensure the survival of general practice throughout Northern Ireland by investing 10% of the NI healthcare budget on a safe, sustainable GP service for patients; training more GPs so practices at risk of closure can stay open and meet the needs of patients; and reducing bureaucracy and improve IT systems so more time can be spent providing care to patients.
NIGPC has warned that, if the Department of Health does not act to implement these urgent rescue measures, general practice will collapse across the country.
Speaking at the City Hotel meeting, NIGPC chair and Derry-based GP, Dr Tom Black, said: “What we have heard tonight are the very issues we have been flagging up in general practice for many months now and, unfortunately, it looks like it’s crunch time.
“While there were some positive announcements recently by Minister O’Neill as part of her Health and Wellbeing plans, until we have greater clarity about the funding for these initiatives, we need to move forward with our own plans.”