‘We’ve had enough’: why local doctors now say they’ll vote to leave the NHS


FERMANAGH GPs are expected to vote to begin the process of leaving the NHS later this month, as the crisis in general practice deepens across Fermanagh.

An emergency meeting has been organised by the British Medical Association (BMA) in Enniskillen for November 29 in response to the ongoing crisis, with a severe and increasing shortage of GPs across Fermanagh.

At the meeting local GPs will be given the chance on whether they are willing to sign an undated resignation from the health service, and it is expected they will vote in favour. The meeting will be the third in a series of five meetings held by the doctors’ union, with one already held in Belfast and another in Armagh, where more than 90 per-cent of GPs voted for the mass action as they are unsatisfied with proposals to rescue primary care within the next six months.


One Fermanagh GP who spoke to the Herald said hoped to attend the meeting and would be willing to sign the undated resignation. He added all other local GPs he knew would also be going if they were able. The GP said the time had come to take drastic measures.

“The whole NHS is in crisis, there has to be change,” he said. “The whole thing is very complex, it’s not black and white, but a lot of changes need to be made and we need a long-term view.”

The doctor said he and his colleagues were facing a massive increase in their workloads, and said he personally knew colleagues in Fermanagh who had left general practice because of burn-out, and because they had a poor quality of life.

“I love my job in principle, but it’s too much. We’re all on edge. How much more can we take?” he asked, adding when he first started the NHS was very different.

“When I started as a student doctor I was getting paid less than a cleaner and I was working 108 hours a week, but I was happy because everyone was so nice. You were working as part of one big happy family.”

The doctor, who called for GPs to be given the same wages as hospital consultants, said morale across the NHS was now at an all-time low, with increased regulation and managers “micro-managing” the service. He added there was little support for NHS staff, such as when patients made complaints, with some patients making up to 60 complaints alone. This, he said, is adding to their crippling paper work duties.

The GP said many young doctors were going to Australia or Canada in search of a better quality of life.


“I know one Canadian doctor who was going to come here to work, but then they realised they could earn three times the money and work a third less of the time in Canada,” he said.

Another health care professional at a busy Fermanagh practice said they were struggling to recruit locums, who were in short supply, meaning GPs were getting fewer and fewer days off, often working to 8 each evening and going on Saturdays to deal with their “mountain” of paper work.

The added demand for GPs had “gone through the roof” in recent times, possibly due the ageing population, and appointments that 18 months ago were taking one or two days to book, now had to be arranged three weeks in advance. They added appointments could still be booked on the same day.

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