IN NEWS that will surprise few locally, official figures have confirmed Fermanagh has seen the biggest decrease in GP services of anywhere in the North over the past number of years.
However, in what may be more surprising to some, while the area has the smallest number of GPs, it doesn’t currently have the smallest number proportion of GPs or GP practices per person.
The figures were revealed in the General Medical Services for Northern Ireland report, which was published last week.
The report revealed there were currently 319 active GP practices in the North, as of March 31st this year, compared to 350 in 2014, a fall of just under nine percent. Here in Fermanagh, the number of practices has fallen by 29.6 percent over the same period.
According to the statistical report, there are 15.3 practices per 100,000 population in the Fermanagh and Omagh area. Four other areas had a lower proportion, with the lowest being in Antrim and Newtownabbey which has 12. The average for the North is 15.8.
However, the report itself stressed this may not tell the full story.
“Clearly the number of registered patients in any given LGD (local government district) will have an influence on the service required,” stated the authors, noting the table of GP practices per 100,000 population was intended to provide on an indication of service provision.
“Note, however, this does not take account of the different age profiles or levels of morbidity across areas which will also impact service requirements.
“It should also be noted that GP practices vary in size and number of live GP contracts associated with them.”
With regard the number of actual GPs in the Fermanagh and Omagh area, which stands at 82 as of the end of March, the area had 66 GPs per 100,000. This is below the average for the North, which is 70.2, but is not the lowest in the North, with that title going to Mid Ulster, which has 57.2 per 100,000.
The report also revealed Fermanagh and Omagh has 124,243 registered patients, second lowest in the North after Lisburn and Castlereagh.
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