The Royal College of GPs in Northern Ireland (RCGPNI) has launched it's first action plan aimed at government, calling on them to improve patient access to GPs through five measures.
In the action plan, RCGPNI calls on government to grow the GP workforce by 400 over the next five years, empower innovation, develop the general practice team, give GPs more time to focus on patient care, and improve GP premises.
The plan, Delivering change for general practice: A strategy for improving patient care in Northern Ireland, can only be achieved through on-going and sustained investment in general practice, the RCGP warned.
Dr John O’Kelly, chair of RCGPNI, said: “This document outlines a series of immediate measures, as well as medium- to long-term plans.
“As a matter of priority, I urge the Northern Ireland Government to increase the number of GPs being trained by the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency from 65 to 111. An increase in the number of GPs will help deal with rising demand and allow more time to be spent with patients. Five or 10 minutes is not sufficient, especially for patients who have multiple and increasingly complex conditions.
“General practice has a key role in leading the development of new models of care. We call for investment in the wider practice team. Health and social care services must be integrated around the lives of patients and carers, and people need to be involved in decisions around their own health and wellbeing."
The college is also urging more focus on expanding and developing the general practice nurse workforce along with the wider general practice team, which will help take pressure off GPs.
“GPs ask that the Government works with us to invest in general practice so that we can give all our patients the compassionate care they need and deserve,” O'Kelly added.