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Access to general practice under threat, say Northern Ireland GPs

22 March 2010

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Access to GP surgeries in Northern Ireland is likely to become worse as a result of the patient experience survey currently being carried out by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS).

This was the warning from family doctors at their annual conference in Fermanagh yesterday (Sunday 21 March 2010).

The letter accompanying the survey that has been issued by DHSSPS tells patients that the outcomes of the survey will help improve general practice.

However, Dr Brian Dunn, Chairman of the BMA’s Northern Ireland GPs’ Committee, said: “Despite the fact that many practices will score highly, the outcomes of this survey are likely to result, once again, with the removal of funding from local family doctors. I simply don’t know how removing funds will improve general practice”.

Of particular issue to doctors across Northern Ireland in the survey are questions seven and eight, concerning access to healthcare in general practice.

Dr Dunn (pictured) added: “Practices already providing good access are rapidly becoming disillusioned.”

Saintfield GP Dr David Ross said: “This survey is fundamentally flawed. As a GP providing a service to my patients, I don’t mind being judged on how well my practice delivers care to our patients.

“What I mind is being judged by the perception of a minority of patients when I can provide incontrovertible evidence on what access is actually provided.”