A local GP has appealed to the public to sign a petition urging the Assembly to address the escalating crisis in general practice here.
Dr. Tom Black, from the Abbey Medical Practice, made the call as chair of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee.
The BMA has warned that 74 per cent of practices here claim they are struggling.
Nearly 10 per cent are ‘barely coping’ due to escalating problems such as growing patient list sizes, serious staffing gaps, growing paper work and bureaucracy.
The petition, which was launched this week, is available to sign in GP surgeries across Northern Ireland throughout August. It will be presented to the Assembly in September.
It calls on the Minister for Health to ensure the survival of general practice by investing 10 per cent of the health care budget on a safe sustainable GP service for patients and to train more GP’s.
Dr Tom Black said: “General practice is one of the key bedrocks of every community in Northern Ireland and is the first point of contact for 90 per cent of health and social care-related needs here.”
The doctor warned that the ‘Northern Ireland government is sleep-walking towards a crisis in primary care’.
Dr Black said: “The majority of rural practices in Northern Ireland are at serious risk of closure due to workforce and workload issues.
The situation is particularly bad for smaller, single-handed and rural practices that have fewer GP’s working in them and who are struggling to fill vacancies.”
The Derry based GP said addressing the crisis is a “matter of urgency not only to rescue general practice, but to ensure that patients in Northern Ireland have a responsive, safe and sustainable general practice service that they know will be there when they need it.”