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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Sheena McStravick

Belfast GP shares the good, the bad and the ugly side of doctors surgery practice

A Northern Ireland GP has shared his insights into the current state of GP surgery life at present across the country.

The health service continues to struggle across the board to meet demand with pressures only compounded by the pandemic in recent years.

With thousands sitting on waiting lists for operations and others lamenting their inability to get an appointment with their GP, Dr Alan Stout has given his insights into how the service is currently operating.

Read more: NI Public Health Agency explains Monkeypox and its potential risk

The Belfast GP and Chair of NIGPC took to social media to explain just how GP services are operating at present, exploring the good, the bad and the ugly side.

He tweeted: "General Practice Update. The good, the bad and the ugly. Just a simple thread to explain exactly where we are at the moment and what to expect.

"The Good. Over 200k patients still being dealt with every week, 10k per day seen face to face every day. Many are getting an exemplar service and are very happy with the service. Phone first allows prioritising so the most urgent are seen quickly. Please give details when phone.

"Your GP is everything to everyone and picks up the slack in every other part of the system, be it long waiting lists, early discharge, social care problems, ED pressures, palliative care, increasing mental health problems. Never mind all the reports, results and record requests."

Dr Stout did acknowlege that although they are seeing and dealing with hundreds of thousands of patients every week, they are still struggling to meet demand.

He continued: "The Bad. With the numbers above we really struggle to deal with everyone and everything. We are still struggling with access, especially the phones. We still need better infrastructure, more GPs and bigger teams to deal with the volumes. We will keep trying, but it will be tough."

In concluding his post, the Belfast GP highlighted the fact that a number of practices are closing and this will also have a detrimental impact.

"The Ugly. We are seeing a number of imminent practice closures all across NI. These will cause big problems for the registered patients and also for the surrounding practices already under pressure. We are doing everything we can to mitigate these and maintain service."

When asked by a Twitter user what is the reason for some practice closures, Dr Stout replied: "It’s mainly the pressure, and the lack of GPs and ability to succession plan."

Another user asked if there is anything patients can do to help mitigate the pressures asking: "Is there some way that we, as patients, could help? We need to take control of our own, individual health but could we also take steps to avoid overloading the system?"

To which Dr Stout replied: "That’s going to be a big part of any strategy going forward. Some of it self care, some of it health education and some of it alternatives to GP such as community mental health provision, community pharmacy etc."

Read more: Belfast woman diagnosed with cancer at 27 says her 'world fell apart'

Read more: Newtownards woman's plea for help as parents sleep in living room after dad's sickness

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