Doctors Warn Of Cuts To Essential NI Health Services

Health services in your community will stop and jobs are under threat.

 This is the stark warning from doctors across Northern Ireland today, as a petition of over 32,000 signatures was taken to Stormont to deliver to the Minister for Health, Michael McGimpsey MLA.

Beleaguered family doctors are facing cuts of up to £50,000 this year and are facing little option but to stop providing some services in order to keep other treatments available. 

Measures to mitigate this loss of core funding include: Stopping minor surgery - leading to more referrals to hospitals

Reduction in opening hours, such as stopping evening clinics or closing one afternoon per week

Cuts to treatment room nursing hours; Staff redundancies; and Reduction or cessation of essential services such as counselling, physiotherapy sessions or diabetic clinics.

Larne GP Dr Brian Dunn, Chairman of the BMA’s GP Committee in Northern Ireland said: “GPs are feeling totally overwhelmed by this significant cut to their budgets and see it as yet another attack on a vital part of the health service.

“Primary care is the cornerstone of the health service, dealing with around 90% of health-related cases. However short-sighted cuts are being imposed on general practice teams with seemingly little or no thought given as to how these cuts will impact on the health service as a whole Patients are gong to suffer”.

Dr Dunn continued: “Time and again general practice has been shown to deliver a high quality, value for money service. The tens of thousands of patients who have signed our petition clearly see the need for a properly resourced general practice service.

“Regrettably our local decision makers do not seem to appreciate the service that they have”.

Dr Paul Darragh, Chairman of the BMA’s Council in Northern Ireland added: “As a hospital doctor, I am amazed that no thought appears to have been given to the impact this in-year funding cut will have on secondary care.

“We are already seeing a rise in waiting times for patients for their first appointments and we have highlighted repeatedly the scandal that is the wait for review appointments.

“To then prevent general practice from undertaking work, such as minor surgery or holding clinics, and force them to refer more patients to hospital does not make sense, either economically or in terms of patient care.

“The BMA would urge our decision makers to think again and to sit down with us so that we can work constructively together to improve our health service”.


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