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East Antrim GP Federation Newsletter February 2024

12th February 2024

A Note From the Chair - Dr Ian Lalsingh

Dear Colleagues, 

2023 was another tumultuous year, maybe best described as an annus horribilis!! 

In the setting of an ongoing political vacuum with the first contract hand back in the East Antrim. From the extremely worrying precedent of linking a contract freeze to an enhanced service, to the disastrous attempted introduction of QI facilitators, and culminating in the icing on the cake that was the shameful withdrawal of the vasectomy service and huge 50% cut to all other Federation elective care services, there was not much to feel good about. 

General practice is providing 21,000 a day, more consultations than pre-covid, beyond safe working limits, while lacking sustainable, simplified funding and huge workforce issues.

In terms of key stats for NI to share with patients, MLAs, MPs etc, this should help: 

  • These of course are in the context of the current pressures, the need to have people out of hospital (we also do intermediate care in Larne and Whiteabbey), and just about every health care strategy in the Western World stating that we need to bolster primary and out of hospital care.  


  • We have 1080 partners doing 6880 sessions (835 whole time equivalent), and a reduction of 136 WTE from 2014. 475 of these are over 55 years old, doing 2687 sessions (336 WTE), and we can lose these ones at any time. 


  • Current training numbers 121, only maintained at risk by the Dept as were to reduce. These can take up to 10 years for full training and produce less than 100 WTE per year. Numbers qualifying in the interim period is less than this. 60% of current trainees do not originate from NI, so absolutely no guarantee that we will keep them. 


  • We have 318 practices, 9% less than 2014. Rescue team have been involved with around 100 of them who are all still at massive risk of closure. 


  • Despite plans and policy, we only have 1 fully functioning MDT (South Down). 


  • Funding has also not kept up with population growth never mind demographic change and there are 80,000 patients currently not paid for (the equivalent of about 12 practices provided for free).

The BMA conference in November gave a clear mandate to our leadership to workup a feasible “Plan B” whilst contract negotiations continue with the Department of Health. 

Change is always upon us, it's how we respond and handle the change that matters. This can start with you … sharing ideas, things that work well, or don’t work well. For the coming year, we will look to run another Federation workshop similar to our QI working lunch to share best practice. I would encourage practices to review and refresh your workflow optimisation protocols. I also plan to refresh our current premises readiness for MDT this year, whilst we have no firm timescale and as and when that time comes we should be ready. Our last Federation strategy day was once again time well spent outside of our busy working day to consider how we Enable Better General Practice. We gained tremendous insight into how we can approach, engage and better understand the DoH and SPPG. One of the key guests, Dr Winsdor Murdoch will join us as a non-executive director for the Northern Federation Support Unit. He has decades of experience and insight in working that all important “gap” between primary care and other key players such as DoH and SPPG. 

It is fantastic that we have two new Federation Executive Directors, Dr Eimear McLaverty and Dr Gordon Alexander.

I am also very grateful to one of my GP partners Margaret Black for being courageous enough to put herself in front of TV cameras. I found the experience most insightful, trying to communicate the complexity of the problems that face us in general practice is challenging and do not fit easily into soundbites. I think our effort to raise awareness in the media was a success, raised our profile and started a debate ( links for BBC webpage and Belfast Telegraph here) . If you are sick of seeing or hearing all the negativity about general practice on social media then listen to BBC TALKBACK – from 1hr 3 min 30 secs onwards – 20 minutes well spent and you will feel better.

I sincerely hope that you feel it is not all doom and gloom for general practice. We are all working incredibly hard. I still believe things will improve and that we all have a pivotal role in shaping the change to come. 

Thank you for letting me be your Chairperson. There are many reasons why I have worked and stayed in East Antrim all these years, but it is really just about the people. The many inspirational, innovative, and resourceful colleagues at all levels through general practice that work away behind the scenes. You give me hope, energy, the drive to be better and hopefully influence others in the same way that you help me, thank you all. 

Looking forward to an annus mirabilis.


Federation Education

Dr Richard McClean, Dr Aine McNeill, Shauna McKinley & Janice Russell -

Federation Education Team

Our next PBL will be on 7th February and is our yearly safeguarding session.  


The event starts at 2pm with the first session being facilitated by Mary Murphy and Scott Fleming from the Social Work, Governance and Training Team.  The second session has focus on “Care of the Elderly” and will be facilitated by Dr.Jacqueline Grier  a Consultant Geriatrician, Nicola Loughlin the Delirium Management co-ordinator & Dr Jennifer Preston from the Mental Health Liaison Service.




We had our FedED small group learning session on 14th January and Dr. Liam Jordan spoke on Cardiology in Primary Care with a focus on heart failure.


It was a really useful session to highlight the up-to-date guidance regarding the diagnosis and management of heart failure.  We also had the opportunity to share our experiences of managing heart failure in primary care and to chat through the practical significance of the information provided by echocardiogram reports.


Our next small group teaching session is planned for April with details of venue and topic to follow.


I’m always keen to see greater engagement with the sessions, so if any trainer is interested in facilitating either the April or July sessions feel free to drop me a text or email.


Lastly, the Management and Administration Team have had really well attended training sessions:


  • Practice Management: Recruitment, Staff Retention & Interview Techniques

  • Reception teams had a talk by pharmacy on Community Pharmacy Services

  • Minor Ailments & Pharmacy First.


We will also join the Safeguarding day with training accessible through the NFSU sponsored access to Practice Index.

NFSU are currently working on the Education section on the website, all resources, recording and information will be available to you all soon from previous PBLs


Nicola Smyth - Lead General Practice Pharmacist

Sarah Brimstone accepting her Recognizing Achievement Award along with Dr Kathy Ferguson at Victoria Surgery, Larne for her excellent opioid reduction work.

Presented by Glynis McMurtry and  Michael Ogilby.


'GPP NI 2030: A strategy for General Practice Pharmacy in Northern Ireland’ was due to launch soon, however it has been deferred to later in the month due to the uncertainty about the Permanent Secretary's availability, given the potential for the Assembly to reconvene. However, this will outline a 2030 Vision, to plan for and incorporate pharmacy teams within GP practices (using additional funding), as well as offering more enhanced roles for our current staff to aid staff retention.

As Karen and Nicola digest this new way forward, they will be in touch to arrange meetings with all practices in relation to protected clinical time for our GPPs and to try and further standardise their workflow across the Federation. If/when money is released to help facilitate both the newly announced Advanced GPP and Pharmacy Technician roles it is hoped that East Antrim Practices will lead on embracing new roles early on, have GPPs trained and ready to fulfil the advanced roles and progress the vision of offering holistic patient centred care.



Congratulations to Judith Ingrim (Glengormley Practice) and Catherine McCarthy in achieving their Independent Prescribing PgCert and recognise the amount of hard work that went in to be able to get this finished. We want to wish them all the best as they now identify patients within their practices to manage going forward.

Congratulations also to Deborah Cupples (Abbots Cross) on completing her Asthma Post-Graduate diploma.


A big thank you to Pauline Beattie (Tramways Medical Centre) for all her work in the support of the pharmacist role within the practice. From taking the time to help teach the process of searches on the infamous EMIS LV back as far as 2011, to ensuring all new Federation GPPs have had an opportunity to be part of the MDT there. We wish her all the best in her retirement.


Northern GP Federation Support Unit (NFSU)

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions for East Antrim 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


East Antrim GP Federation collaborates with Northern Regional College to launch Innovative Level 2 Primary Care Medical Administration Course.

-         Enabling our local GP Practices & increasing future careers in General Practice.

The East Antrim GP Federation is thrilled to announce its partnership with the Northern Regional College (NRC) to introduce a new Level 2 Primary Care Medical Administration course which began in Sept 2023. This pilot initiative is bringing the health and education sectors together to support General Practice and represents a significant step to help meet the growing demand for GP administrators within our local GP Practices.  

In a response to this demand, East Antrim GP Federation and NRC has innovatively designed this course.

This programme, which commenced in September 2023, responds to the need for more GP Medical administrators who can seamlessly integrate into GP Practices. Designed as a part-time course, the Level 2 Primary Care Medical Administration program is for individuals aged 18+ and strikes a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Students will attend class one day a week at the Northern Regional College and spend another day on a paid placement in a local host GP Practice for 7.5 hours per week until June 2024. This structure ensures that students gain hands on experience in a local GP Practice.

A number of GP Practices are involved in the pilot project in East Antrim who each have 1 student placed in their practice 1 day per week.

“Glengormley Practice is delighted to be involved in the collaborative working arrangements between Northern Regional College and East Antrim GP Federation. The administrative role in General Practice has evolved over the years, from the days on the Medical Receptionist to a progressive Care Navigation role, requiring additional skills and knowledge.  The teaching arrangements which include attendance at College accompanied with work placement in Practice, will be a valuable learning experience for the students. This innovation, between education and health, will support and stablise the administrative teams in General Practice and equip individuals enrolled in the Northern Regional College programme, for a future career in General Practice.” - Carol Andrews, Practice Manager, Glengormley GP Practice

We held our recent launch event in November 2023 and the students will finish the course in June 2024. Thank you to all the Practices for their hard work in being a part of this project and hosting the students.


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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