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Developments in GP Services

Developments in GP Services

The Strategic Planning and Performance Group of the Department of Health (SPPG) are committed to working in partnership with GPs, GP Federations, Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs), HSC Trusts, the Public Health Agency, and other stakeholders to further develop the range and effectiveness of all general medical services provided to patients across Northern Ireland.

GPs increasingly work as part of larger primary care teams, with input from other healthcare professionals, focused on preventing as well as treating illness. GP Federations, where a number of GP practices agree to work together, will continue to facilitate this in the future.

A diverse range of different career options is available for GPs including partnership work, salaried posts, and roles which allow GPs to deliver more specialist care in a particular field.

GP training

To increase workforce capacity, following recommendation of the GP led working group, the Department of Health worked with the Health and Social Care Board and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency to increase GP training places in Northern Ireland as follows:

Year No. of Training Places
2015/16 65
2016/17 85
2017/18 95
2018/19 111
2019/20 111
2020/21 111

As of July 2021 there are 352 doctors on the GP training programme and the number of newly qualified GPs is outlined below:

Year No. of Newly Qualified GPs
2016/17 48
2017/18 57
2018/19 65
2019/20 83
2020/21 68


GP Retention Scheme

The Retention Scheme is run by the HSCB and is designed to assist in retention of GPs in primary care in Northern Ireland. GP partners and GPs who are contracted to work for a Trust or another body for more than 20 hours per week are excluded from the scheme.

The GP Practice employs the scheme GP on a salaried basis and the HSCB pays the practice a fee for each session worked.

The scheme GP must work a minimum of 4 sessions a week in the GP Practice and 1 session a month in Out of Hours.

The Scheme provides stable work in a Practice for the scheme GP, as well as a mandatory funded Certified Professional Development programme to assist with appraisal and revalidation.

Each placement lasts a maximum of three years.

GP Induction and Refresher Scheme Northern Ireland

The GP Induction and Refresher Scheme provides an opportunity for GPs who have previously been on the General Medical Council’s GP Register and on a UK Performers List, to safely return to General Practice following a career break or time spent working abroad.

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