Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson says more is needed to be done so that "pressure can be relieved on the GPs and the treatments that patients need can be provided in a timely manner"
Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson has welcomed the announcement of a £5.5 million boost as a first step to improving people’s access to GP services.
The package was announced by the Executive's Health Minister, Robin Swann.
Mr Swann said the Department of Health has committed £3.8 million to support additional patient care through the winter.
A further £1.7 million will be spent to improve telephony infrastructure and improve accessibility, such as the use of online systems for ordering repeat prescriptions, helping to free up telephone lines and staff time.
This is in addition to the £1.7 million already invested to upgrade GP systems to improve telephone access.
Foyle MLA, Ms Ferguson, said that while the announcement from the Health Minister was to be welcomed, there was still more to be done.
She said: “I welcome the announcement by the health minister of an extra £5.5 million to help improve people’s access to GP services.
“This funding will be used to improve patient care and the telephone service offered by GP practices for people ordering prescriptions and over the phone consultations.
“People are having major difficulties getting GP appointments and it’s important that efforts are made to address this issue.
“While this is an important step in supporting our under-pressure GP surgeries, much more needs to be done.
“The health minister must come forward with his plan to roll out Multi-Disciplinary Teams to general practices so that pressure can be relieved on the GPs and the treatments that patients need can be provided in a timely manner.”
Of the financial package that he has announced, the Health Minister Mr Swann said: “I recognise how important it is that people can access GP services when they need to do so.
“I must emphasise that GP practices have been open throughout the pandemic and will continue to use both face-to-face appointments and alternative consultation options for patients as appropriate.
“Feedback from GPs indicates that many patients are presenting with more complex needs, particularly those who have a chronic disease, making it more difficult for them to see all the people they would wish to.”
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