Northern Ireland GP practices given £15 million to fund out-of-hours appointments

Health minister says investment package will help practices cope with rising demand for services

Health minister Jim Wells has announced a £15 million investment package in GP services for Northern Ireland to fund expanded services.

Jim Wells
Health minister Jim Wells

The funding reflects a 5.5 million rise in the number of GP consultations in the country in the ten years to 2013/14.

About £10 million of the funding will allow GP practices to borrow to upgrade their premises.

Mr Wells said: ‘I fully recognise the challenges faced by general practice in meeting rising demand for appointments and services.

'GPs play a vital role in delivering care closer to home, where it is safe and sensible to do so. This investment will help practices to address some of the current difficulties and plan for future challenges.’

A Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety spokesperson said: ‘Some of the money will be used to fund people who support GPs, such as phlebotomists for blood tests.

'Until we’ve done more detailed work on the model, it is not possible to say for certain that the money would be used to employ additional nurses.’

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