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Chronically sick patients in NI to be treated within general practice

GPs in Northern Ireland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of an offer from the DHSSPS to provide funding for new clinical work to be carried out within general practice here.

It will now mean that patients suffering from the bone disease osteoporosis, peripheral arterial disease (a narrowing of the arteries) and heart failure will be treated largely in their local GP surgery rather than having to go to hospital.

In a poll of all family doctors in Northern Ireland, the results of which are published today 94% voted in favour of accepting the offer.

Dr Brian Dunn, Chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee in NI, said: "We are pleased with the result of this poll because it will mean that patients who are the most sick, ie, the older and chronically ill, will find it easier to be treated locally rather than having to travel outside their communities.

"The DHSSPS, rather than inject money into the pursuit of GP surgeries opening for an extra couple of hours a week, very sensibly took the decision to put the money into frontline patient clinical care instead."

GPs in Northern Ireland have already taken on a substantial amount of work from the secondary care sector. Long-term conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension, are all now treated and monitored within primary care.

Dr Dunn continued: "The GP contract is designed to make sure patients receive high-quality care as quickly as possible. The Department wants to work with GPs to provide such care to the people of Northern Ireland. Extended opening, which has no evidence of improving care, is not a priority here. However, there is of course the option available to Health Boards to commission extended hours of opening, should the need arise."


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