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Newsletter - Antrim Ballymena GP Federation September 2022


A Note from the Chair

Dr Alan Lewis


It’s hard to think that four months have passed since our previous newsletter. We do aim to circulate a newsletter three monthly, but there has been a slight delay to this one!

Since our last correspondence, I am delighted to report that Antrim and Ballymena Federation is now an award-winning federation! You will see from the update below re GPPs that our GPP pregabalin project won both the medicines safety category and was overall winner at the Recognising Achievement Awards 2022. This is a statement to the hard work of all our GPPS and the practice teams working with them, well done.

Lack of local government is hindering any progression in our MDTs locally. Unfortunately, there has been little movement in this apart from that we are engaging with Northern Trust locally to carry out a staff scoping exercise in preparation for MDTs. The hope is that we can proactively look at staff shortages and encourage the trust to engage in workforce planning for MDT rollout.

We submitted a business plan to the SPPG requesting they source funding for advanced nurse practitioner trainees, similar to our GPN trainee pathway. The hope is that we can train up ANPs who can carry out many GP roles and help support our local practices who are struggling to get GP cover to enable them to keep afloat. Unfortunately, we have been advised there is no funding for this, and our business plan has been shelved for now. Despite this, we will continue to apply pressure through the relevant pathways in the hope that we will be in line for funding as soon as it is available.

Once again, thank you to all our member practices working hard in continuing difficult circumstances.


Federation Education

Dr John Goodrich

First face to face Federation Education event

We hosted our first post-pandemic in-person event on 14th September in Tullyglass and were delighted to welcome 32 colleagues to the teaching with Antrim consultants Dr Lynne McFetridge (paediatric abdominal pain) and Dr Aaron Niblock (oncogenesis and haematological malignancy in primary care). It was a good afternoon of teaching and it was a particular pleasure to be back amongst colleagues with all the social, networking and idea-sharing opportunities it provided. Thank you to our sponsors - Medilink, GSK & Pfizer for their support and networking opportunities and Tullyglass House Hotel & Residences & Team for their brilliant catering, venue and hosting 🏨

Hot Topics

Wednesday 5th October 2022

Our next event is the Hot Topics day on Wednesday 5th October in Tullyglass House Hotel. Please register to this event if you have not already done so to allow planning for catering. This is always a busy but worthwhile event delivering six hours of evidence-based CPD. A course manual, dinner and refreshments will be available for all attendees.

AGM - Save the date

The AGM is planned for the evening of Wednesday 7th December.

We hope to have a short event on sharing best practice at this.

Details to follow.

Care Navigation

We are also planning care navigation training for the entire practice team in recognition of the QoF changes this year. This is provisionally booked for two afternoons in January. Each session will be 3.5 hours and deliver the training required by QoF. Attendance at either session will suffice. By holding two events, at different venues in the federation area, we aim to give practices the option to split resources and send staff to either whilst managing opening accordingly. It also gives a second options for those who may be unavailable on a given date. Further details will be circulated in due course.


General Practice Pharmacists

Joanne Caldwell & Aislinn McCarry - Lead GPPs

Big congratulations to our GPPs who were overall winners in the Recognising Achievement Awards for the Pregabalin Reduction Project (Lena Harkin, Emma Laverty, Lucie Gage, Kathleen Kielt, Cecilia Brennan, Lorraine Wallace, Claire Loughran).

6 of our GPPs have celebrated 5 years' service in the Antrim/Ballymena Federation: Lyndsey Alexander, Bronagh Currie, Lucie Gage, Nicholas Graham, Caoimhe Goodall and Lena Harkin. Congratulations!

Congratulations also to Catherine Chappell and Helen Stevenson who have successfully passed their Independent Prescribing Qualification.

We want to wish those GPPs who have enrolled on to the independent prescribing Course for 22/23 every success in their studies.

Our team recently attended a mental wellbeing resilience training at Queens University which was valuable training.

We have a packed programme of training over the next few months and are looking forward to more face-to-face delivery.


General Practice Nurses

Anne Witherow - Lead Nurse


The current number of Federation employed GPNs stands at 7 with a number who have successfully completed the post graduate certificate in General Practice. Two staff are currently on maternity leave.

New Trainee GPNs

We have three new trainees who commenced training in September. - Nicola O'Brien, Ciara Ferguson and Aine Duffin who are training in Portglenone, Randalstown and Antrim Castle Practice.

As the trainee GPNs complete their post graduate certificates they are offered additional training such as Breast and Cervical screening.

On-going Training and development

Federations who are employing GPNs are establishing a series of training days both of a clinical and quality of care nature and the Antrim & Ballymena Federation are offering several places for GP employed practice nurses on a first come first served basis.

Details of such events are shared with Practice Managers for circulation to relevant staff.


NFSU - Federation Support Unit

Over the past 6 months, the Federation Support Unit based at Galgorm Castle has been expanding. We welcomed two new members of the team - Naomi Hutchinson Project Coordinator and Carol Shaw HR administrator.

Over the past year, NFSU staff, Federation Members & Chairs have met for a number of strategy afternoons facilitated by John Armstrong MBE Non-Executive Director to focus and establish our business culture. Together, we achieved Our Purpose, Vision and Values. You will begin to see these small changes in our marketing materials, and these will begin to be communicated and embedded across the Federations.

We have big ambitions for the Northern Federations and Support Unit, not only do we want to achieve great things, for us it's important that we achieve them in the right way. How we deliver is just as important as what we achieve. Our values have been built by our people, for our people, which means they are authentic and hope they are lived and breathed across our Federation employees.

Our Purpose

We have a clear, simple core purpose: Enabling Better General Practice

Our Vision

Our vision is our future ambition. It is who we want to be as a business. It is our collective goal: We aim to become, the leading GP federation support unit in Northern Ireland, enabling clinical innovation and development in General Practice, to deliver excellent patient care in our local communities

Our Values

The Northern Federation and NFSU will continue to be a purpose-led, values-driven organisation. The golden thread that connects all these together is our members.

Our values are part of who we are, what we stand for and how we act.


Transparency - Being honest and transparent in all our dealings which builds a positive culture.

Consistency - ongoing commitment to our Values.

Equality & Fairness – Treat others as we would like to be treated.

Respect - Act in a kind and compassionate manner

Accountability - Have the humility to uphold our Values and take responsibility for each of our actions.


Working together - to find customised effective solutions to complex problems.

Awareness - Being vigilant towards potential opportunities and unforeseen problems.

Creative – Having the ability to pivot and move forward in a new creative direction to support General Practice

Quality – Continually improving staff and services to deliver the highest quality patient care.

Courage– Having the self-belief to be ambitious in our targets & believe in our ability to deliver.


Ownership – Encourage a sense of belonging and pride.

Leadership - We value and support the development of credible Leadership at all levels

Communication– Acknowledging that both verbal and nonverbal communication have an important role to play. Being open and honest, encouraging others to voice their concerns and share their ideas.

Teamwork – Recognising the skillsets that colleagues have to contribute in achieving great success

Development - Foster a culture of learning where individuals can unlock their potential and continue to grow.


Collaboration – sharing of ideas in a safe and non-judgemental space.

Enabling - Empowering others through education and engagement.

Structure - Building upon solid structures to further strengthen & enhance processes.

“No blame culture” – Failure is an event not a person; learn from it and use as an opportunity.

Enhancement of Primary Care based services.

Celebration - Sharing Good News & Celebrating Success, big and small wins.


Practice Management Support to Executive Team & Practice Based Learning (PBL) project.



You will find Education materials, upcoming events, HR documents for our employees, and other useful information on our Northern Federation website at


Thank you

Our Federation Executive Team thank all our Member Practices and employees for your continued hard work! If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at or 0289620833 and we will be happy to help :)



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