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Antrim Ballymena GP Federation Newsletter February 2024

12th February 2024

A note from the Chair - Dr Alan Lewis

As I reflect back on the last 3 years since I began as Chair, the word that I think about is ‘change’.  We have seen significant changes both regionally and locally and while a lot of changes have been negative, there are a number of positives also.  


Locally, in our federation area we have seen the embedding of our GPNs and hopefully practices are benefiting both from the GPN trainees as they complete their training and the ones that are available for leasing.  We are continuing to invest in this scheme.


We are hopeful that a new government at Stormont will give us the opportunity to revisit and resubmit our business plans to request further funding to expand both our GPP and GPN team and look to explore advanced Nurse Practitioner Trainees for our area also.


Along with some local GP's I recently met with RCGP Chair, Dr Ursula Mason, at the RCGPNI GP retention roadshow.  It was a chance to discuss pressures within general practice both locally and regionally and RCGP will feed this back to SPPG and the DoH with the hope of effecting positive change. 

FAO Member Directors

As discussed at the last AGM in September 2023, Member Directors were advised the 3-year tenure of the current Executive Team is coming to an end in February 2024.   Member Directors have the opportunity to either nominate themselves for an Executive role, or agree the existing Executive Team remain a further 3-years. The current Executive Team is:

Dr Alan Lewis - Chair

Dr Susan Sproule - Vice Chair

Dr Allen McCullough - Treasurer 

Dr John Goodrich - Secretary 

Please complete the voting form below by Mid Day 23rd February.  On completion of the voting form Member Directors will be advised of the outcome. 


Trainee General Practice Nurses

Anne Witherow - Federation Lead Nurse

Staffing Update

We are sorry to be saying goodbye to one of our GPN colleagues who is moving on to a role in Community Palliative Care with the Northern Trust. We are delighted that she has been successful in securing this very critical role and the promotion that comes with the role.

The time spent in Primary Care has undoubtedly helped prepare our colleague for the role and we wish her every success in this new season of her nursing career. Goodluck!



We currently have two GPN trainees who are now over a quarter way through their Post Grad Certificate in General Practice Nursing, and we are grateful for the support they are receiving from the practice hosting and the General Practice Nurses who are mentoring and supporting the trainees through the programme.



Ongoing education is one of the additional supports the Federation is providing to both the trainee and qualified General Practice Nurse.

These education sessions are open to practice nurses employed directly by practice with advance notification of such events being shared with the practices via the Federation Support Unit.


The education session on ‘Diabetic Foot Assessment and Treatment’ hosted on 13th December seen 7 practice nurses booking a place on the session. The Federation will continue to offer places to practices as we host education days.


Currently the University of Ulster (UU) offers the one-year Post Grad Certificate in General Practice Nursing for those wishing to start their career as a practice nurse.


UU are developing an additional course in practice nursing under the term Specialist Practice Qualification (SPG).

This course will include the non-medical prescribing course known commonly as the V300 and it is anticipated that the course will be suitable for those nurses with some years of experience as a practice nurse who wish to progress their career in this role.

The course was validated by the NMC two weeks ago and will be a recordable qualification on the NMC register.


UU are advising while the course is developed it may not be available to undertake until September 2025 at the earliest.

The Post Grad Cert will continue to run as normal in September 2024.


In response to the proposed changes the existing NIPEC Career Framework for General Practice Nursing is now undergoing a review and updating to reflect the future plans as outlined above.


Federation Education

Dr John Goodrich

Following the success of our Hot Topics study day in October 2022 when 65 GPs in our Federation attended, we hope to run a further Hot Topics event in the Spring of 2024.  We will be in touch with each practice in due course to extend an invitation and confirm attendees.  A prompt response would be very helpful to assist our planning and catering.


General Practice Pharmacists

Joanne Caldwell & Aislinn Carey - Lead General Practice Pharmacist

The GPPs from Antrim/Ballymena have enjoyed several training events in the last quarter of 2023.  We met with GPPs from the other three Northern Federations recently for joint training on Menopause, Addiction and Pain Management.

This event is a terrific opportunity for our GPPs to enjoy valuable training and to network with colleagues. Dr Andrea Latimer, a GPwSI in Menopause provided our pharmacists with practical prescribing advice on HRT and useful resources.


In October we also received our annual CPR Training. This is always a highlight in the year. We are looking forward to another packed training calendar for 2024 with events already scheduled for wound-care and heart failure, to name a few topics we will be covering.

We would like to congratulate GPP Lucie Gage on recently passing her Spirometry Diploma. Well done Lucie!

Currently we have 2 GPPs completing the second Foundation Program, 2 completing Independent Prescribing and 1 Advanced Practice Masters. We wish them all the best with their continued studies.

The team of pharmacists continue to work hard in practice with quality improvement and patient safety projects. We have work planned in Women’s Health and Stoma Care for 2024.


Northern GP Federation Support Unit (NFSU)

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions for Antrim Ballymena GP Federation please contact NFSU on


We are delighted to have almost all our Emis Practices joined up to the FSU contract for AccuRx. A platform to connect and communicate to patients which has a number of modules to help support Practices. Accurx | The simple way to communicate about patient care.

NFSU hold the contract alongside Eastern, Western and Southern Federation Support Units, those who are in the contract provides practices with a large, reduced discount than purchasing this software alone.

I will be in contact with all of those practices who have AccuRx in the coming weeks to confirm next years modules and offering the option for training on any of the modules.


If you are an Emis practice who wishes to purchase AccuRx please let me know as soon as possible.

NFSU Meeting Rooms

NFSU based at Galgorm Castle has two meeting rooms which can be used individually or opened to one large room. They both have video conference cameras/ TVs which can be connected to laptops. We also have coffee and tea making facilities and local catering companies nearby. We welcome any practice who wishes to use these rooms which are free of charge for any training/ meetings. The large room together can hold up to 24 people. If you wish to see pictures or book these please contact


Job advertising

The Federation website can host any of your GP Practice jobs on our website to get the reach to the public. If you wish to post any of your live jobs on our website please send the details to

Antrim Ballymena Executive Team Minutes

Antrim Ballymena Executive monthly team meeting minutes are available on our website for GPs to read at anytime. This page is password protected please contact us to receive this password. 


NORTHERN IRELAND GP Practice Management Handbook


The Practice Managers Advisory Group within Eastern FSU has been working to develop a GP Practice Management Handbook, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland!

This project was undertaken after a need was identified to have a comprehensive reference guide, specific to Northern Ireland, primarily for new practice managers. It is hoped this handbook will aid new Practice Managers (and other staff) with induction into the Primary Care setting and be a supportive resource for existing managers in their day-to-day business operations.

The document has been designed to be used as a digital document as it has live links throughout but as things frequently change in general practice this handbook will be updated on a yearly basis.

NI General Practice Management Handbook - 1st Edition - 2023
Download PDF • 2.00MB




Practice Index

Bespoke, engaging courses designed specifically for GP practice staff, delivered by expert trainers.

As all Practices will be aware, the Federation have purchased a 3-year licence for each of our 73 GP Practices to have access to Practice Index Training for you & all your staff within your Practice in January 2023. You should all have received a log in by this stage to access the portal to be able to allocate mandatory training to your staff.

Download PDF • 154KB

Accessible Information Standard 

Accident and Incident Reporting  


An Introduction to Care Navigation        

An Introduction to Management  


Bullying and Harassment  

Caldicott and Confidentiality        

Care Navigation and Correspondence

Management Masterclass - Part One    

Care Navigation and Correspondence Management Masterclass - Part Two   

Change Management Masterclass        

Chaperone Awareness     

Complaints Management  

Complaints Management (Northern Ireland)     

Conflict Resolution  



CQC for All Staff    

CQC Masterclass: The Perfect Practice - Module 1: Introduction     

CQC Masterclass: The Perfect Practice - Module 2: Key Question (Safe)

CQC Masterclass - The Perfect Practice - Module 3 - Key Question (Effective)    

CQC Masterclass - The Perfect Practice - Module 4 - Key Question (Caring)       

CQC Masterclass: The Perfect Practice - Module 5: Key Question (Responsive)

CQC Masterclass: The Perfect Practice - Module 6: Key Question (Well-led)     

Customer Care       

Dealing with Violent and Abusive Patients        

Dementia Awareness        

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016         

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Domestic Violence Awareness    

Duty of Candour     

Effective Record-Keeping - The Essentials       

Electrical Safety     

ELFH - Autism Awareness ELFH - Communicating with Patients, Parents and carers 

ELFH - Flu Immunisation (FLU) - Core knowledge for flu immunisers and self assessment         

ELFH - Flu Immunisation (FLU) - Inactivated flu vaccines and self assessment

ELFH - Flu Immunisation (FLU)   - Live Flu vVaccine and Self Assessment"

ELFH - National Immunisation Policy and Programmes and Assessment 

ELFH - Vaccine administration and assessment         

ELFH - Vaccine Storage and Assessment       

Equality and Diversity       

Equality and Diversity (NI)

Excel basics for Practice Managers       

Fire Safety   

Fire Warden Training        

Fraud Awareness   

GDPR - The Perfect Practice      

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 1   

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 2   

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 3   

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 4   

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 5   

GP Practice Management (Masterclass) - Module 6   

Having Difficult Conversations     

Health and Safety: Office, Electrical and Fire Safety   

Health, Safety and Welfare

How to Reduce Did Not Attends (DNAs)

HR Masterclass - Module 1 (Recruitment)        

HR Masterclass - Module 2 (Performance Management)      

HR Masterclass - Module 3 (Disciplinaries)      

HR Masterclass - Module 4 (Appraisals & objective setting)  

HR Masterclass - Module 5 (Managing short-term sickness absence)         

HR Masterclass - Module 6 (Managing Long Term Absence) Induction         

Infection Prevention and Control: Tier 1 - Non-clinical Staff   

Infection Prevention and Control: Tier 2 - Clinical Staff

Information Governance and Data Security      

Information Governance and Data Security (Northern Ireland)        

Leadership Styles and Approaches       

Learning Disabilities Awareness  

Legionella Awareness       

Lone Working         

Maintaining the Cold Chain         

Managing Change  

Managing Others   

Managing Yourself 

Mental Capacity Act and DoLS    

Mental Health in the Workplace   

Moving and Handling Level 1 (All staff)  

Moving and Handling Level 2 (Clinical staff)     

#MyGPandMe: Making your practice inclusive for people with learning disabilities and autism      

Office Safety Practice Marketing Checklist       

Preparing for a Pandemic 

Preventing Radicalisation - Basic Prevent Awareness  Privacy and Dignity         

Receptionists in General Practice Masterclass - Module 1    

Receptionists in General Practice Masterclass - Module 2    

Receptionists in General Practice Masterclass- Module 3     

Receptionists in General Practice Masterclass - Module 4    

Resuscitation - Adult Basic Life Support Resuscitation - Paediatric Basic Life Support  

 Risk Assessments   Risk Assessments including COSHH     

Safeguarding Adults (Level 1)     

Safeguarding Adults (Level 2)     

Safeguarding Adults (Level 3)     

Safeguarding Children (Level 1)  

Safeguarding Children (Level 2)  

Safeguarding Children (Level 3)  


Transgender Awareness   

UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)        

Understanding how General Practice Works    

Understanding how General Practice Works (Northern Ireland)       

Understanding Integrated Care Systems Understanding Personally Administered Items (PPA Claims) Whistleblowing       

Working at Height   

Your practice on social media - A beginner's guide


Lunchtime Learning specific for General Practice

Join live workshops via MS Teams every other Wednesday lunchtime on the latest hot topics. Our bitesize sessions deliver the essential information needed in around 45 minutes and cater for all primary care staff. See upcoming live sessions.


Practice Managers also have access to Holiday Manager

Staff can request leave online, meaning the days of bits of paper floating around your office are long gone. Then, with an instant check to see who else is off, simply click and you’re done – you’ve approved the annual leave! What’s not to love?

Holiday Manager handles new starter and leaver calculations with ease. It can make instant calculations for part-time workers, calculate (and automatically deduct) bank holidays, and enables holiday to be calculated in either hours or sessions depending on the staff member.



Simply add start or finish dates for each member of staff, any contractual terms and away you go! It really is that simple. Where you’re happy to do so, at the end of each year, you can carry over any unused annual leave with one click. The benefits don’t stop there; Holiday Manager reminds staff that they need to take annual leave and provides you with a list of staff who have high levels of unbooked leave. It also gives you an overview of who is off in the next 30 days, along with any leave requests you have pending.

Holiday Manager also helps you to manage other types of absence, and can even calculate the Bradford Factor to support you in managing sickness absence.

If you can’t find what you are looking for? – they will create it for you! Let us know if there is anything specific you would like and we can work with Practice Index to create this.


Who does what?

There is quite a few statutory and associated bodies in the HSC landscape. Here is a brief overview of the remit of each:

  • GP Federations are provider organisations. There are 17 Federations across Northern Ireland (our boundaries are co-terminus with ICPs) and 4 Federations Support Units, Northern, Southern, Eastern & Western. We work on behalf of our member practices to deliver services which will improve primary care for both patients and GP practices. A group of GP practices, aimed at addressing capacity and workload issues within general practice. By coming together within a largescale, primary care organisation, it enables economies of scale, not achievable by a single practice.

  • SPPG Strategic Planning and Performance Group (previously Health and Social Care Board) is a statutory organisation. They commission health and social care services for the population of Northern Ireland.

  • NILMC - The Northern Local Medical Committee (NLMC) is the statutory representative body of general medical practitioners of all grades, principals, salaried, sessional and those in training. They are funded by voluntary levy contributions from GP practices and represent the views of our constituent members to the local integrated offices of the SPPG and through our office bearers and appointed members to the Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee(NIGPC) and to the senior management at the SPPG and Department of Health. They also represent general practice at interface areas with the local Health Trusts and other 3rd party and non statutory organisations. They act as an advocate and offer help on all matters with General Practice. They can offer advice and guidance on items as below and while not exhaustive highlights some of their roles - Disputes/queries between General Practices and other bodies, NHS contractual regulations/GMS contract, Liaison with Trusts and workforce planning ( Presently with representation with the NHSCT/GP Partnership), Facilitation with GP Federations, Guidance around practice based issues, with signposting to relevant supportive resources. Of specific note they do not give financial nor legal advice but highlight the relevant legislation and signpost to the relevant resources that are available.


Contact us

As always if you have any questions for the FSU, please do not hesitate to contact the Federation Support Unit on or 02896208333

Follow the Federation on:



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