Another 20 practices in Northern Ireland are likely to close next year, Tom Black, the British Medical Associations Northern Ireland General Practice Committee (BMA NI GPC) chair, suggested.
With this in mind, the BMA NI GPC will now offer practices on the brink of collapse extra support, together with the Health and Social Care Board.
The working group will look for practices in Northern Ireland who are at risk of collapse and find ways to support them.
Black said: ‘We have already seen a number of practices collapses in Northern Ireland and estimate that we may experience approximately six practice collapses this year, increasing to about 20 [practices] next year.”
The main problems GP practices are currently reporting is getting locum doctors to cover sickness, holidays and maternity leave, and increasing pressure, as work moves from secondary to primary care under the Transforming Your Care plan.
“[The committee] has therefore set up a rescue package team to look at how we can identify struggling practices early and how these practices can be supported,” he added.
A Health and Social Care Board spokesperson said health officials were happy to work with the rescue package team to ensure GP practices are maintained.
‘The board looks forward to an initial meeting with the team in the coming weeks,” she added.