The crucial work general practice has been doing throughout the global pandemic…

stethoscope, hospital, doctor

Dr Laurence Dorman is Chair of RCGP Northern Ireland… As Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland, I wish to refute some of the comments made by Mr Terry Maguire on your website last week and to highlight the crucial work general practice has been doing throughout the global pandemic. Like Mr Maguire, all GPs want to provide the highest standard of patient care including access and timely repeat prescribing. His comments are in significant contrast …

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Why it’s so hard to get an appointment with your GP…

Crop unrecognizable woman showing chiropractor painful spot on back

Last week I had the fun experience of trying to get through to my son’s doctor. Junior had a rash and I was hoping to ask the doctor what cream would be best to treat it. I was not even after an appointment, just advice over the phone. I phoned about 9:50 am and got the hold music, so far so normal. I don’t mind going on hold, I just put the phone on speaker and go and do some …

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General Practice is making pharmacists’ lives very difficult and is potentially risking patient safety…

medicine, pills, blood pressure

GPs locked the surgery doors on 16th March 2020 and have, it seem, only resumed a basic service. Officially no one is saying so; it’s an uncomfortable truth and GPs are everywhere making the case they work harder than ever. Perhaps they do. When GP spokespersons appear outside practices to tell us how exhausted and burned out they are we might be hearing the truth or we could be witnessing spin at its apogee. Patient access remains constrained to the …

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Beyond a Spin of the Wheel – GPs and mental health care

The crisis facing GP services in Northern Ireland has been well documented, including in previous posts on Slugger O’Toole.  Increasing patient lists, ‘red tape’, underfunding, an ageing workforce and the compounding of health issues in deprived communities due to austerity policies, are only some of the problems faced by the service. The British Medical Association has mooted the unwelcome spectre of GPs walking away from the NHS, while the Royal College of GPs NI, in an open letter, has highlighted …

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The government’s idea of compelling doctors to work for a period in the NHS…

The general public regards the NHS as something between a ‘sacred cow’ and a ‘national treasure’, despite all the pressures that it is under. For decades it has provided a universal service, largely free* at the point of use. The public may have a collective memory of the abysmal provision before it was introduced; to see just what changes it made, you have to look for ‘the short and simple annals of the poor’ — you could start by reading …

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Dr George O’Neill on the slow death of general practice…

The 2004 GP contract was the result of significant problems in English inner cities with recruitment and retention of GPs. The continuity of care the bedrock of general practice was lost when GPs no longer were required with the implementation of the new contract to provide out of hours medical services. As a consequence patient care is now the responsibility of the Trusts for the majority of the time.  The loss of continuity of care means the GP is no …

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Should doctors strike?

There is to be a further strike by junior doctors in England next week. They will not work between 8 am and 5 pm on 26 and 27 April. In previous strikes, cover for emergencies was maintained; this time it is ‘all out’. (The strikes, and the challenges of the new contract, don’t apply in Wales, Scotland or N Ireland.) The strikes come as negotiations between junior doctors and the Department of Health have broken down. The negotiations were about …

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The Northern Ireland GP crisis. The doctor won’t see you now…

Across Northern Ireland there is a shortage of 234 family doctors. Some 25% of GPs are over 55 so many will be retiring soon further worsening the situation. The number of GP practices in Northern Ireland has shrunk to the lowest level in nearly a quarter of a century – and that each GP surgery in the region is, on average, now providing care to 500 more people than ten years ago. Over the last decade, the number of registered …

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