GP services are at breaking point across Northern Ireland and just days after the crisis was highlighted in Portadown, there has been calls for the Minister to stop denying there is a problem.
Justin McNulty MLA has called on Michelle O’Neill to urgently address the crises.
Mr McNulty raised the issue in the Assembly this week during Questions to the Minister for Health.
Speaking after question time Mr McNulty explained: “GP services are at breaking point across the North and instead of rolling up her sleeves and trying to resolve the issue this Minister, just like her predecessor, continues to deny there is a problem.
“GP practices are facing extraordinary pressures. Practices are struggling to recruit doctors. Up until now this has mainly been a rural problem however in recent weeks I have become aware of one urban practice which is now being run by locum doctors. This is not to mention the fact that people are struggling to get appointments to see their GP.”
He added: “The GP practice is a often our first point of contact with the health service and if that service is not accessible, it has serious knock-on consequences for the rest of the health service be that GP Out Of Hours, Minor Injuries Units, Emergency Departments and even the Ambulance Service.
“Successive Health Ministers have failed to listen to the professionals on the front line, be they doctors, nurses or indeed patients. We need the Minister and her officials to listen to the concerns we are expressing. Many GP practices are on the verge of collapse or are being forced to close.
“One prime example is illustrated by the fact that the Minister’s Predecessor Simon Hamilton announced a £10 Million investment package for GP Surgeries and yet less that £1Million has actually been spent.
“In recent weeks NHS England and the Scotland Government have ring fence substantial funding to support front line general practice and yet our Health Minister denies we have a problem and has castigated public representatives like me for even raising the question.
“It’s time this Minister got a grasp of the problem, listened to those on the front line and actually acknowledged our GP Services are at the point of collapse.”