British Medical Association Northern Ireland’s General Practitioners Committee (NIGPC) has voted to proceed with gathering undated resignations from general practices across Northern Ireland. 

The decision follows the failure of the Department of Health to announce a rescue package for general practice.  

NIGPC chair Dr Tom Black said the decision to proceed with undated resignations was taken "with deep regret".

"General practice is on the brink in Northern Ireland and we feel we have no alternative to proceed with collecting undated resignations from our members,” said Dr Black.

"Continued inaction to save general practice has forced us into this situation. The work of the Northern Ireland government may have stalled, but the need to provide safe and efficient healthcare to patients has not stalled. General practice is being delivered under unsustainable conditions that we can no longer tolerate.   “We have no choice but to act.  While we welcomed the proposals outlined in Health Minister Michelle O’Neill’s Health and Wellbeing 2026 plan and the recommendations laid out in the GP-led review, momentum has now been lost.  We have received no clarity about the funding for either of these initiatives or a rescue plan for general practice and we now feel we have to take action."

NIGPC has been calling for the following rescue measures for the past year to prevent the collapse of general practice across the country:

• Investment of 10% of the Northern Ireland healthcare budget on a safe, sustainable GP service for patients;  • Training and recruitment of more GPs so practices at risk of closure can stay open and meet the needs of patients • Reducing bureaucracy and improve IT systems so more time can be spent providing care to patients. 

In the latter half of 2016, a series of GP roadshows held across the country saw 97% of GPs in attendance agreeing that they would be willing to sign an undated resignation from the health service should a rescue package not be announced.

A rescue package that was agreed in principle between GP leaders and the Department of Health just before Christmas has not materialised due to delays in the publication of the last monitoring round and the subsequent collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly. This delay, coupled with the continued deterioration in working conditions and growth in workloads for GPs, has meant that NIGPC have been left with no choice this week but to act.

NIGPC has requested an urgent meeting with the Health Minister to discuss this issue.

To read more about undated resignations, click here.