GP Leaders in Northern Ireland Advance Mass Resignation Plans

Doctors’ leaders in Northern Ireland have announced that scheduled resignation plans will go ahead, despite the obvious concerns of the authorities.

The hierarchy of these organisations believe that this drastic action is the only way to prevent general practice being destroyed.

There have been massive problems in general practice across the United Kingdom, with the situation considered particularly serious in Northern Ireland.

Undated resignations have been submitted to the General Practitioners Committee in Northern Ireland by several practices in the nation.

The news follows a vote by representatives of the LMC at the annual conference in Belfast.

LMC representatives backed a motion calling on GPs to “move ahead with practice of undated resignations as this is the only way to save general practice in Northern Ireland from the destruction of the service by our Department of Health” by an overwhelming majority.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Tom Black suggested that around 6% of the practices in Northern Ireland are seriously threatened with closure.

Calling on LMC leaders to back the motion, Dr Black said: “Are we holding a gun to their head? Yes. Do we have to pull the trigger? Yes.”

Central to the position of the General Practitioners Committee in Northern Ireland is a request for the authorities in the nation to guarantee the level of investment already promised via the GP Forward View in England.

It has been noted that funding was set to rise to more than £200 per patient in England, while GPs in Northern Ireland receive closer to half that amount.

“The destruction of the GP service in Northern Ireland is assured unless we fix it,’ he said. ‘If it wasn’t for the collapse of the executive, there would be a different excuse. We are a priority…just not this year’s priority. We are here to save the service for our patients,” Black commented.

Proposing the motion, Western LMC’s Dr Arnie McDowell asserted that the authorities have been tremendously neglectful towards general practice, and that this was literally leading to destruction.

Warnings made by professionals about GP training numbers and workload have been repeatedly ignored, and this has left general practice in a terrible state.

“Is there any doubt general practice needs to be saved? There is not. Is resignation the only way? I have to say it is. With regret. We have won the argument. Everyone knowws there is a crisis and what needs to be done. But are we any closer to achieving a genuine rescue package? I don’t think so. The time has now come to move ahead and implement this strategy,” McDowell commented.

The Western LMC representative also opined that “the alternative is for this group of GP leaders to preside over the terminal decline of general practice in Northern Ireland”, while asserting that mass resignation is essential for the future of the healthcare system in Northern Ireland.

“We have to do this. I hope by doing this we deliver the change we need. I hope we never come to the point where we open up with a credit card machine at the front desk, but I don’t see an alternative option.”


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