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27 January 2015

Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety - Monday 26 January 2015


At the start of Oral Questions to the Health Minister, Mr Jim Wells was asked what he is going to do to address the shortage of GPs by Ms McCorley MLA.

The Minister shared with the House that there are currently 351 GP practices with over 1,215 GPs providing primary care medical services to a population of 1.8 million. The Minister stated " I am fully aware of the issues around recruitment and retention within general practice.  As a result, under the remit of the regional workforce planning group, whose role is to take forward the Transforming Your Care (TYC) recommendations relating to workforce issues, a medical workforce planning subgroup was established to develop a suite of medical  workforce plans, including for GPs, for the five-year period 2013-14 to 2018-19. The GP medical workforce group included  representatives of the board, the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, the Northern Ireland General Practitioners  Committee, the Royal College of GPs and my Department. In addition, the Health and Social Care Board has undertaken further work  specifically examining potential initiatives aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of trained GPs.

No final decisions will be taken until the Department has considered the findings of those reviews. Increasing the number of GP  trainees would, of course, require increased funding, and any decisions would need to take account of the overall financial position of my Department.

The Minister was also asked for an update on the progress of the vision for good nutritional care strategy for adults in all care settings in Northern Ireland during Oral Questions time.

During the 15 minutes of topical questions to the Minister he was asked about Plain Packaging smoking, banning smoking in cars and to explain how he can justify the cost of court cases in relation to the ban on blood donations from the gay community.