The Northern Irish public believe that GP workloads are a threat to patient care, a survey has revealed.
More than three fifths of adults in Northern Ireland (63%) believe that the number of patient consultations family doctors carry out is a threat to the standard of care they can provide to patients.
The poll, commissioned by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) shows that two-thirds of the public believe funding should be moved from other parts of the health service into general practice.
The survey also shows more than a third (37%) are concerned about the health impact of how long they have to wait for an GP appointment.
New research from consultancy firm Deloitte has shown that funding for general practice in Northern Ireland currently stands at just 7.96% in 2012/13 – lower than the UK average of 8.39%.
The RCGP has warned that if resources continue to plummet this will have disastrous consequences for safe patient care.
Dr John O’Kelly, chair of the RCGP NI, said: “General practice is the cornerstone of the NHS and lack of investment in it will have major repercussions for the rest of the NHS. Without investment, waiting lists will inevitably get even longer and GPs will struggle to provide good, safe, compassionate care which patients deserve.
“Patients should be able to get an appointment with their GP when they need one – and GPs and practice nurses should be able to concentrate on the person in front of them instead of worrying about the queues building up in the waiting room.”
President and chair of the National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP), Dr Patricia Wilkie agreed.
She said: “Patient care is now being compromised. Many of us are waiting a week or more for consultations and there is a critical need for better continuity of care, particularly for the frail elderly and those with complex needs.
“We believe that there needs to be increased investment in patients and GP care in order to improve and sustain the high standards of quality in patient care that patients need and GPs want to give.”
The college is asking for 11% of total NHS funding to be pumped into general practice by 2017/18 as part of a UK-wide campaign called Put patients first: Back general practice launched in conjunction with the NAPP.