On a visit to Saintfield Health Centre today, Health Minister Simon Hamilton announced the biggest investment in GP training for over 10 years.
The Minister said: “I have been engaging with GPs regarding the issues facing primary care including those associated with ensuring there is a sufficient supply of GPs. I recently discussed the matter in depth with the First Minister Arlene Foster who highlighted particular challenges in the west of the province.
“This investment of £1.2million per year in 20 additional GP training places is the most significant investment in GP training in over a decade. Northern Ireland has the best GP workforce in the world, but also the oldest in the UK. With increasing demand from an ageing population it is vital we continue to invest in our workforce if we are to ensure people can get an appointment with their GP when they need to.
“This announcement builds on my recent announcement of funding for Practice Based Pharmacists, which will see GPs supported by those with the skills to help manage patients. Nevertheless, we need more GPs to work in practices, alongside more pharmacists, nurses and other professionals.”
The Minister added: “Maintaining and developing our health and social care system to meet the needs of all of us in Northern Ireland is a major challenge, with General Practice playing a key role in us succeeding.”
Notes to editors:
1. There are currently 65 GP training places each year.
2. The level of General Medical Services funding has increased over recent years with investment of approximately £6million in 2013/14, a further £3million in 14/15 and up to £15million in 15/16, including Financial Transactions Capital.
3. The level of paperwork has also been decreased through a reduction in the number of Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicators to be completed. This has reduced from 148 in 2012/13 to 64 in 2015/16, freeing up more time for GPs to spend with their patients.
4. NI has the oldest GP workforce in the UK with a quarter of GPs aged over 55.
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