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Developments in GP Services

We are committed to working in partnership with the Public Health Agency, Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs), GP Federations, and with GPs to further develop the range and effectiveness of all general medical services provided to patients across Northern Ireland.

General Practice is not immune to the pressures being experienced across the wider health and care service.

With a growing and ageing population, increase in long-term chronic conditions, the work is becoming more complex. These factors coupled with an aging GP workforce and changing expectations of younger doctors are creating many challenges.

GP partners are finding it increasingly challenging to attract younger GPs to fill vacant positions. Many of today’s younger GPs say that full-time clinical work along with the responsibility of running a practice and employing staff, is making general practice a less attractive career. As well as finding ways to address the substantial workload that GPs face, a range of different career options for young GPs is required.  This includes not just progressing from locum work into a partnership but salaried posts and roles which allow GPs to develop more specialist knowledge in a particular field.

GP Federations, where a number of GP practices agree to work together, have the potential to help drive this change in the future as well as the Health and Social Care Trusts stepping in to help run practices, when this is necessary.   This has happened recently in the Southern area.

Modern day GPs, whilst independent, are fast becoming part of extensive teams, with input from other healthcare professionals, focussed on preventing and treating illness.

GP training

Work is progressing to further increase the number of GPs who are trained. The GP led working group recommended an increase in the number of GP training places to 111 by 2019/20. In order to help address this, GP training places were increased from 65 to 85 per year from August 2016 and again from 85 to 97 from August 2017.

The Department of Health is working with the Health and Social Care Board and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency to further increase GP training places to meet the recommended 111 places by 2020.

More useful information