Friday, 23 December 2016

Health Minister responds to GP-led care working group report

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has today responded to the GP–Led Care Working Group report.

Michelle O’Neill said: “I have considered the report and recommendations of the working group set up to review GP-led care services here.  The report is clear - we need to take action now to address the challenges facing the service and I am pleased to accept its recommendations as signalling the direction of travel needed to ensure that everyone here continues to have access to high quality, sustainable GP-led services. 

“In ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’, I was clear that primary care is the bedrock of our health and social care (HSC) system.  As such, it must be central to the approach to reforming that system.  The recommendations made by the working group require action by my Department, the HSC, GPs and other health professionals and I will continue to work with all parties to make the working group’s recommendations a reality.”

The Minister said considerable progress has already been made against a number of the working group’s recommendations.   She said: “The working group recommended increasing the number of GP training places to 111 by 2019/20. I recently announced that we will reach that goal by 2018/19, a year ahead of the working group’s recommendation.

“I have also committed to increasing the amount of time undergraduate medical students spend in general practice, to encourage more young doctors to consider it as a career.  I have set out my plans to develop multidisciplinary teams working alongside GPs in primary care to help keep people well and out of hospital. 

“Investment in the Practice Based Pharmacist scheme is continuing, with over 50 pharmacists now employed by GP practices and a further 50 taking up post early next year.  By March next year, every GP practice will have a named district nurse, health visitor and social worker to contact regarding their patients." 

Concluding, the Minister said: “I also want to explore in more detail the way in which we provide GP services in the future and, as a first step, I plan to consult on the role of GP Federations in the New Year.”

Notes to editors:

1. In October 2015, the GP-led Care Working Group was established to consider how to address the pressures facing GP-led primary care services to ensure that they are able to meet the challenge of rising demand now and into the future. Its report was published on 23 March 2016.

2. The working group included representation from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Royal College of General Practitioners, the Northern Ireland GPC, the Royal College of Nursing and Health and Social Care Trusts.

3. The key issues the group focused on were building a stable GP workforce, GP training, the structures and teams to support GPs, developing a sustainable out of hours service, innovation, infrastructure improvement, quality and integration of services, population health and wellbeing and improving patient experience.

4. The Minister’s 10 year vision statement Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together was published 25 October 2016.

5. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

Monday, 19 December 2016

Further document laid in Assembly Library

Earlier today (19 Dec) the Minister laid the attached document in the NI Assembly Library.

Notes to editors: 
  1. The document is available at
  2. The officials named in this press release and in the associated documentation are not available for comment.
  3. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 2397 4383 and your call will be returned.

Sunday, 4 December 2016


First Minister the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster and the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness have expressed their condolences at the death of former News Letter editor Austin Hunter.
The First Minister Arlene Foster said: "It is with deep shock and sadness that I learned of the death of Austin Hunter.

"As a highly respected journalist for many years, Austin's professionalism and exemplary journalistic skills put him at the forefront of his profession.
"Austin was a man of deep integrity and objectivity who was respected by all who knew him or came in contact with him.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jean, son Simon, daughter Rachael and his wider family and friends at this sad time."

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: " I was very sad to hear about the death of Austin Hunter.

"Austin was a man with a wide range of communication and interpersonal skills and made a considerable contribution to the media and public relations industry here for over 40 years.
"This loss will be felt most by his family and many friends and I will remember them all in my thoughts and prayers at this time."
Foster and McGuinness express condolences at death of Austin Hunter