GP coverage falling despite high demand

The number of GP practices in Derry and Strabane has fallen by 4.2% in a decade despite our growing, ageing population.
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New figures published by Health & Social Care’s Business Services Organisation (BSO) show there are now just 23 GP practices in the city and district compared with 24 in 2014.

This was mirrored in the Western Trust geography which had the largest proportionate decrease in GP practices in the North between 2014 and 2023 (15.8 per cent).

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The ‘General Medical Services for NI, Annual Statistics 2022/23’ report shows these declines have happened in the busiest GP federation in the North.

The number of GP practices has fallen by 4.2%.The number of GP practices has fallen by 4.2%.
The number of GP practices has fallen by 4.2%.

“At GP Federation level, Derry has, by a considerable margin, the highest number of registered patients (208,688),” the report states.

The federation represents 28 practices from Limavady to Castlederg.

In 2022/23 alone 7,306 new patients were registered across it – the second highest increase in the North.

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In Derry City & Strabane specifically – excluding Limavady – there were 176,738 registered patients with a ratio of 10 GP practices per 100,000, the third lowest density in the North. Derry & Strabane also has the third lowest ratio of GPs to people at 65.6 per 100,000.

The Derry GP federation had the highest number of GPs at 134 but 20.9% were aged over 55.

And the BSO processed more payments for the Derry GP federation area than any other district.

“Given the Derry GP Federation has the largest number of registered patients, it is unsurprising that GP practices located here also recorded the highest total payment towards GP services (£37.5m).

The highest average payment per registered patient in Derry was £180.