Dr. Nicola Herron: Without a vast increase in GPs we are going to struggle

A Derry GP has spoken of the recruitment difficulties facing primary and secondary health care in the north.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 5:47 pm
Dr. Nicola Herron

Dr. Nicola Herron said: “We have a huge workforce issue in NI - absolutely massive.

“That has come about as a result of years and years and years of what seems to be a lack of foresight planning as regards the number of graduates we have coming out of - not only the medical profession - but of nursing and allied health professionals.”

Dr. Herron made the observation at the Stormont Health Committee. “We are now at a point where we have more jobs than people and that is never a good place to be because it means that if you advertise a post you are lucky to get an application for it as opposed to being able to choose the best of the applicants that have applied for that job,” she said.

She said the new Medical School (GEMS) at Magee will make a difference. “We have a new Medical School in the north west and that is fantastic and that is over time going to improve the situation as regards the medical workforce.”

But she said GP practices as well as acute care providers are struggling to recruit.

“We now have on average 2,000 patients per full-time equivalent GP. There is an increasing number of very complex patients with a wide variety of needs, some of them may be seeing four or five consultants in the hospital, and we are having to try and work with all of those issues those patients have on a daily basis.

“Not only that, GPs are being asked to take on roles now to ease the pressure on secondary care. We are really struggling with that. Without a vast increase in GPs we are going to have difficulty trying to meet the needs of the population and ease the pressure on secondary care.”