Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin has submitted a 16,000-strong petition for more funding to cut waiting times for GP appointments.
Speaking to the Journal from the Assembly yesterday, after handing over the Putting Patients First petition at the Assembly, Ms McLaughlin - who is also chair of the NI Health Committee- said:
“‘Putting Patients First’ is not only an important principled approach to how we deliver health care but it also gives voice to thousands of people across the north in their support for their General Practices.
“In order to shift left from acute to community/ primary care and early intervention it is important that we acknowledge the increasing pressures on GPs and support this infrastructure to deliver the very services we envisage under Transforming Your Care (TYC).
“GPs will be a necessary part of the shift from hospitals to care in community. The petition calls for General Practice to receive 11% of the healthcare budget. The shift would enable General Practice to deliver shorter waiting times for appointment, and more flexible opening hours, longer consultations better continuity of care and positive benefits for health services as a whole, reducing pressures in hospitals.
“In real terms funding for General Practice in the North has fallen by £21.2m from 2008/9 and 2012/13. GPs saw a 7% increase in activity in past year alone. GPs out of hours has seen an 18% increase over last five years.
“TYC needs to deliver more GPs ,practice nurses, district nurses, health visitors backed up by pharmacy colleagues and members of the allied health professionals in the community.”