GP allocation ‘small first step’ says Bradshaw

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has welcomed the allocation of £3.9 million to GP practices to enable the 1 percent uplift and tackle demographic changes, but cautioned it is nothing like the implementation of reform necessary to avoid the system collapsing.

The South Belfast MLA stated: “Clearly GPs and people using their practices will welcome any allocation of funds which ensures reasonable pay and tackles demographic change. However, this is nowhere near enough.

“The allocation itself is not new, in the sense that the pay award is the one announced last week of a 1 percent uplift backdated for Health workers, including dentists and doctors.

“Fair pay is important but it is not remotely the priority that GPs come to me to discuss. Instead, what they want to see is implementation of the transformation agenda to enable primary care to function properly, for example to develop pathways and signposting so that people receive expert care at the earliest opportunity rather than being left to languish on waiting lists.

“GPs are not being alarmist. We can see GP practices closing with our own eyes. This is a system not on the brink, but over the brink. In many areas reform is needed to re-establish a function GP network, not to maintain one.

“Instead, we cannot even implement the GP-led Care Review even though it had the approval of the outgoing Minister and Executive and would have majority support across the current Assembly. The question is how long ‘lack of budget’ can be used as an excuse for not delivering desperately needed reform.

“It goes without saying that the two biggest parties need to re-assess their priorities this Christmas and get back to work in the New Year.”

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