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GP telephone first system 'here to stay' in Northern Ireland

A phone first system adopted by most GP surgeries at the start of the pandemic is "here to stay", the Royal College of GPs (RCGPs) in Northern Ireland has said.

However, the RCGP has also accepted patient access needs to improve.

The system was introduced in spring 2020. According to GPs, the move, which came without either consultation or prior information, was necessary to minimise the risk of infection of Covid-19.

Two years on, there is concern among some members of the public that the system is not working.

Speaking to BBC News NI, Dr Ursula Mason accepted that the system wasn't working but said there were not enough GPs to see people.

She added that the telephone system, which was being "refined" and "improved" was the best way to manage "growing demand" and to "prioritise the sickest patients to be seen first".

"The telephone system allows us to see many more patients, to deal with demand in a better way so I think the telephone system is here to stay," added Dr Mason.

"There will be some changes to upgrade it, but it will form a significant part of how we manage demand."


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