FERMANAGH’s patients are yet another step closer to having to pay for GP care, with union chiefs voting to press ahead with plans for GPs to leave the NHS.
As has been reported regularly by the Herald for some time now, general practitioners are taking the action as a form of protest against what they see as inaction to save a currently unsustainable and unsafe service, a service which is suffering from chronic under funding and chronic under staffing.
Last week, the British Medical Association Northern Ireland’s General Practitioners Committee (NIGPC) voted to proceed with its plans to gather undated resignations from general practices across the North, including here in the county where the situation is particularly dire as rural GPs retire and no replacement doctors are being found.
Explaining how GPs are tasked with running their own practices on their own budgets, local GP Dr Brendan O’Hare said the failure to invest in primary care and a failure to address the crisis in work loads and staff shortages that had been looming for some time had led to this action being taken.
“Over the past 15 years we’ve had four reports that have emphasised the need to invest in primary care, and each of these has failed to deliver,” said Dr O’Hare.
“General practice in Northern Ireland is diminishing as we speak. There is now no mechanism to save it. To be fair to the Health Minister, she did seem to understand. Maybe she would’ve delivered.”
“This is not being done to raise alarm,” he continued. “If nothing happens, the service will go and disappear. It’s better having it private than having no service at all.”
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