Ballymoney insight to GP practice ‘stresses’

Dr Shauna Fannin, David Simpson, practice manager, Joe Donaghy, Patient Group chair, Dr David Hutchinson, Dr Karen Boyd and Mervyn Storey MLA at Ballymoney Health Centre. INBM 51-758-CON

Dr Shauna Fannin, David Simpson, practice manager, Joe Donaghy, Patient Group chair, Dr David Hutchinson, Dr Karen Boyd and Mervyn Storey MLA at Ballymoney Health Centre. INBM 51-758-CON

The stresses faced on a daily basis at Ballymoney Health Centre have been highlighted in the latest stage of campaign to address the crisis in GP services.

North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey met with practice staff to talk about current pressures and to learn more about the services being provided in the local area.

In a visit facilitated with the help of Dr Shauna Fannin and the Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland, Mr Storey also met with members of the patient participation group who provided valuable insight from their perspective.

The DUP representative said: “The visit helped demonstrate the stresses on this vital service for patients. We need to invest more in general practice to protect the health and wellbeing of people in our communities and I will be working hard in Stormont to do what I can to make sure these committed GPs can continue to support their patients and communities in the years to come.”

Although GPs carry out 90% of the patient contacts in the health service, they only receive around 8% of the Northern Ireland health budget.

Dr Fannin said: “I think it is useful for politicians and decision makers to see firsthand the challenges facing general practice and to learn about the important services being provided through primary care in the area. Under investment in general practice and a lack of GPs is putting local services across Northern Ireland at risk. “Our dedicated staff work really hard to provide a convenient and effective service for our community, but we need more backing from government to protect GP surgeries across Northern Ireland.”

In a recent survey carried out by the College, 88% of GPs said that they expected general practice to get worse over the next few years, with most citing workload as a reason.

Dr Grainne Doran, Chair of RCGPNI, said: “Being a GP is a fantastic job, but a lack of resources is pushing services to the edge.

“These figures paint a worrying picture for the future of general practice and we need the minister and politicians to act now to protect primary care services. A healthy general practice prevents unnecessary hospital admissions, saving the health service money and leading to a healthier and happier community.”

Following the launch of Health & Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together, RCGPNI has been calling for detailed implementation and resource plans to ensure that GP services will be sustainable for the future.