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Causeway GP Federation Newsletter February 2024

12th February 2024

A note from the Chair - Dr Johnny Burns


I trust this newsletter finds you well . As a Federation, we continue to strive to support Practices at what are very difficult times.  We are grateful that once again we have a Health Minister and trust that we can now endeavour to tackle some of the significant challenges facing our NHS.

As a number of you will be aware we have been engaging with Pharmaceutical companies to deliver a number of projects, currently in partnership with Screen Clinical we are looking at Diabetic patients with Cardio / renal risk factors, 11 practices in the Causeway Federation are involved in this project.

We continue active discussion regarding the Heart Failure project and I have had several meetings with the Trust who are supportive of this. This would potentially allow some of our GPPS to develop project based skills which unfortunately for a number of reasons has not materialised thus far (which would be backfilled). 

As per last newsletter we have continued to progress recruitment for our GPP with one successful applicant, allowing us increased sessions to help with backfill and other work for Practices and we have gone out to advertise again to see if we can recruit one more . Work continues on the GPP plan and development regionally and now that we have restoration of the Government, we will try to push this forward .  


Our MDTs continue to work tirelessly in Practices, as do our GPPs, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them for all their work. As some of you may know, Alex Larsen our SW Lead and a major advocate for our MDT, has Retired and his replacement, Elizabeth Craig, has now started in post . We look forward to seeing this service develop and hope we can find a more equitable model until further funding is available. 


As previous -  Elective care work has been reduced in its capacity despite our best efforts to argue their cause, it is hugely disappointing for those involved and the fact that it comes to a small part of the NHS which is over performing has been a kick in the teeth. We will continue to push for restoration of sessions as soon as possible .


Across the country, Practices continue to experience difficulties and pressures with a number of contract hand-backs as part of this process which I have been involved in, we have noted there is significant variation in Core funding to Practices, as such there will be a separate email coming out which may be of interest to you and if that is something you wish to discuss of course feel free to give me a call. 

Thank you



MDT - Senior Mental Health Practitioners

The last few months of 2023 have proved a bit of a challenge for the Mental Health Team with serious illness and family bereavements, but we have been delighted to welcome two new team members – Siobhan Bradley and Michelle Millar, both nurses with valued experience in dealing with mental health issues.


The Mental Health Team hosted a very successful PBL in November on the topic of Advanced Trauma Informed Practice in Primary Care.  This gave attendees the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of trauma and its impact on staff and patients.  115 attendees completed feedback and evaluation forms on the presentation given by Holly Perreault of Recentre and a significant proportion rated the session as being useful and highly relevant for them.



L A U N C H I N G . . .

Causeway Emotional Health and Well-Being Guide

Exciting news! We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new website, dedicated to fostering mental health and well-being within our community. The Mental Health Team has designed and launched an online Mental Health resource page, initiated by David McAuley (MHP) and ably supported by Rachael Elliott and Hannah Wilson from the FSU.   

Our platform features a comprehensive calendar of local 3rd sector events focused on mental health improvement, providing a centralised hub for individuals seeking to engage in community-based activities. Moreover, curated evidence-based self-help resources to empower users on their personal journeys. The website also serves as a directory, showcasing details of local and regional 3rd sector organisations that offer counseling, support, and various community-based interventions. With a commitment to promoting mental health awareness and fostering a supportive environment, our website aims to connect individuals with

valuable resources and opportunities for personal growth and well-being. Join us in creating a healthier and happier community!


This resource will be updated regularly, and we hope it will be a useful tool for everyone working in Primary Care and an amazing guide for patients navigating their mental health.


MDT - First Contact Physiotherapists

Suzanne Kennedy - Consultant Physiotherapist

Happy New Year everyone, it is hard to believe that another year is over and First Contact Physiotherapists have been in the Causeway Federation for 4 years now this January. There has been many challenges along the way but we along with our mental health and social work colleagues, we will continue to support primary care and make a positive impact on the local population in 2024.


I would like to introduce and welcome our new staff member Paula McLister to the FCP team. Paula took up a full time post at the end of October 2023 and will be working across Dalraida, Ballycastle and Fannin practices.


I would like to take the opportunity to thank Colin Brennan for stepping in to cover Shauna’s maternity leave for us, his experience and knowledge has been greatly appreciated and I am sorry to say that Colin will be finishing at the end of February 2024 when Shauna is due back, but he has agreed to go on our bank so we can avail of his expertise in the future.

Congratulations to Clare Doherty and Vikki Baird on passing their Injection Therapy Exam in October 2023 and both are now competent in this advanced skill.


The annual patient satisfaction survey for FCP’s was completed with 117 responses received. Overall, the results remained very positive and similar to the previous years with 100% of service users stating they would recommend this service to family or friends.

SPPG are progressing work to enable FCP’s to issue Fit Notes which should roll out later this year. Although it will be limited to our scope of practice of MSK related conditions this should further help us to support primary care.

Suzanne is working with SPPG and Ballymoney Family Practice to develop a Quality Improvement project in obesity, targeting patients with a BMI over 40 with an aim to improve their health and wellbeing. If this is successful it should improve the local services available for this group of patients.

Patient information for urinary incontinence is available to primary care practitioners, this has been developed by pelvic health physiotherapists in core services due to the significant waiting times for this service to help manage these patients in primary care.

The Federation website is being updated with Hannah at NFSU expertise to include self-management resources for musculoskeletal conditions and current programmes within the local community and voluntary sector.


MDT - Social Work

Dr Peter Reid - MDT Social Work Lead

We are delighted to welcome 2 new faces to team this month.

Elizabeth Craig has been appointed as the new lead for the Causeway Federation MDT Social work team and she has already hit the ground running in supporting the staff already in practice and making connections with the various stakeholders across the Board, Trust , other federations and local practices. We are thrilled to have her join the team and know she will be a fantastic asset in guiding us through the next stage of establishing the role of Social work across the federation.

We are also delighted to have Julieann Gamble joining us to work across the practices in Portstewart, as we continue to push to get resource spread more evenly to all practices.  We know she will be very welcome there and look forward to working with her!



Meanwhile, there continues to be much great work on-going across the more established practice staff.


The Carers Support Group in Coleraine continues to grow and currently 109 patients have access to this monthly support group and are regularly updated on information on local resources/services/support available.


This work has included a very successful 6 week Mindful Carers Well-being & Resilience course by Action Mental Health, and due to demand & positive feedback, a further course is being run in April. Also in the coming months there will be a 6 week Positive Minds through Art Well-being programme in Portstewart in partnership wit Meraki Art NI, and a 6 week CBT programme on Living Life to the Full for Male careers by AWARE NI, with potential to extend this due to high demand already.


We are grateful to Marian Doherty, Our Social Worker in Killowen and Riverside, who remains active on the Carers Pathway Steering Group for the Northern Trust, and after helping run a very successful Carer Information Fair held in the Lodge Hotel last year which was had 64 exhibitors, is planning a similar event as part of carers week this year.


We will soon be starting this years seed funding process and encourage you to discuss with your practice MDT staff if you have identified areas of need in your practice that might lend itself to project work. Some projects that have previously benefited from seed funding include:

  • HUG-(Helping Us Grieve) support group - continues to go from strength to strength with a 20% increase of participants last year-feedback is positive and connections are well established with participants helping and supporting each other.

  • AWARE (mental health project with Ashes To Gold) - 6 week programme with practical workshop sessions, horticulture and Mindfulness-target group consisted of low level mental health, social anxiety and carer stress-we have received fantastic feedback and participants are now taking ownership of the group allowing MDT staff to gradually step back, perfectly demonstrating the seed funding concept.

  • M Power (Menopause events) - The first of these is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 5thMarch at Kelly’s Complex in Portrush (awareness/information evening) to include presentations from GP, Gynaecologist and Mental Health.

  • Connect Wednesday - a social café which operates from Terrace Row Church each Wednesday (anyone welcome) includes art therapy, board games and a "lunch day " on the first Wednesday of each month- continues to gain in popularity and with a marked increase in numbers over the past few months.

We encourage any practice staff to discuss with the social work team if you think any patients would benefit from linking in with these projects or if there is a need to establish something similar in your area.


General Practice Pharmacists

Donna Campbell - Lead General Practice Pharmacist

It is with great sadness that I am announcing the retirement of our dear friend and colleague, Janet Magee. Janet has worked tirelessly since 2017 to establish and develop the GPP role and the service that we provide to all practices across our Federation. Janet came to the Federation with a wealth of experience from many pharmacy sectors including community, hospital, prescribing advisor, and university lecturer. We have been incredibly lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to work with her and learn from her vast experience and we will miss her terribly. We wish her all the very best for her retirement.


Over the past few months, we have been busy recruiting for a new lead GPP and two relief GPPs. We are delighted that Mary McBride will be starting as my new co-lead on 4th March. Mary has been working as a prescribing advisor for SPPG for the past two years. Prior to this she worked as a lead GPP in Antrim/Ballymena Federation.

Mary has a special interest in pain and is planning to help practices across the Federation reduce their opioid prescribing for patients with chronic non-malignant pain.

We have also appointed one relief GPP and have re-advertised for a second one. With these relief posts, we hope that we can provide cover to practices for maternity and long-term sick leave. We also hope to give our current GPPs opportunities to get involved in various medicines management projects across the Federation, with the relief GPPs providing cover for their practice sessions.


Finally, the GPPs attended the 3rd Northern Federations’ GPP Masterclass in the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena on 19th October. These are organised by the Northern Lead GPPs and provide an opportunity for GPPs across the four Federations to come together to learn and get to know one another. The afternoon was packed with presentations.

Opening the session, Dr Andrea Latimer, gave an excellent presentation on menopause. Dr Billy Gregg talked about addictions and Sandra Daniel, benzodiazepine and z drug reduction specialist nurse, discussed the challenges involved in taking patients through this journey. Mary McBride finished the session with a presentation on her previous experiences of reducing opioids and gabapentinoids in general practice.

Our GPPs thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and look forward to the next one in May!


Federation Education

Dr Martin O'Kane - GP Education Lead

The next PBL is on Wednesday 21st February 2024 at the Lodge Hotel Coleraine.

The 2024/2025 PBLs will include a variety of updates and new referral pathways for GPs as well as GDPR update for administration staff.

The MDT teams are streamlining their education through their managerial leads which will make training more effective and relevant to current practice.

The Pharmaceutical stands will now be given a short time to speak about their products via the mic and we continue to appreciate your input as this level of funding is essential to maintain PBL.


Northern GP Federation Support Unit (NFSU)

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions for Causeway 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

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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