Concern over accessing GP services and the need for more general practitioners was highlighted in a motion approved at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council recently.
The motion was proposed by Macedon Alliance Councillor Billy Webb MBE and seconded by party colleague Glengormley Alderman Julian McGrath.
It says that the council shares the “widespread concern across the borough” over accessing GP services.
“In doing so, we appreciate the staffing pressures experienced in General Practice caused by issues such as inadequate indemnity and pensions arrangements.
“We recognise that GP contracts are outdated and do not reflect an increase in demand for primary care services as we emerge from the pandemic for an ageing population and for blockages arising elsewhere in health and social care.
“This council supports the principles agreed by the five main parties, with Professor Rafael Bengoa, to drive the transformation of the health system in order to deliver more efficient access to all areas of primary care, including to GPs.”
An amendment was proposed by Dunsilly SDLP Cllr Ryan Wilson that the Department of Health should provide more training places for GPs.
“Our GP services are in crisis. This is due to inadequate funding and workforce planning,” he stated.
Cllr Wilson reported there were 131 GP training places during the last financial year and he indicated guidance from the General Medical Council that at least 161 training places are needed just to “stand still”.
He also noted “immense competition” from the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Party colleague Antrim Cllr Roisin Lynch said she seconded the amendment.
Cllr Webb said there was no need for “dramatics” and that he was “happy to incorporate it” into his proposal.
Glengormley DUP Cllr Paula Bradley told the meeting of receiving a report of a woman who had apparently made 80 calls in an hour in an attempt to contact her GP’s surgery.
She went on to say she welcomed the amendment to the motion adding it would give it “more teeth”.
Threemilewater Alliance Ald Tom Campbell spoke of a “lack of efficiency and compassion” on receiving a report of an elderly patient who had been waiting in rain only to be apparently “turned away” at a GP practice after queuing.