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Welsh local leaders claim profession 'already becoming extinct' in some areas

The recruitment crisis engulfing Wales means that general practice is ‘already becoming extinct’ in some areas, local leaders have warned.

The Welsh LMCs conference, held in Cardiff on Saturday, backed a motion demanding the Government takes urgent action to provide extra resources for general practice as well as morale-boosting measures to help solve the recruitment crisis

The motion added that the ‘time for further project groups, working parties, task and finish groups is past and action on the GP workforce is required urgently if GMS services for patients are to be maintained’ and called for ‘initiatives to improve morale amongst our current workforce, as this would automatically impact positively on recruitment and retention’.

Urging conference to support the motion, GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘We note the new monies from Welsh Government which now need to be translated into clear workforce support.’

At last year’s conference Welsh health minister Professor Mark Drakeford caused controversy by claiming GPs were wrong to talk of a recruitment crisis.

But in a themed debate at this year’s conference - lightened by the chair and vice-chair of conference donning panda suits - LMC representatives agreed GPs in Wales ‘should be regarded as an endangered species’.

During the debate one GP warned general practice was already becoming extinct in some parts of the country, citing the situation at her own 9,000-patient practice.

Dr Jackie Abbey from Gwent LMC explained: ‘My practice has had to give notice to the health board, we cannot recruit. There are 2.5 of us, we need 5.5 - it’s not sustainable and it’s not safe.’

She said the rhetoric was ‘too little too late’ and that ‘GPs are critically endangered and are extinct in some parts of Wales’.

Dr Abbey added that she is now considering a job as a cruise ship medic.

She said: ‘I’m looking into a job with Cunard line as a ship’s doctor.’

Motion in full

That conference:

i. believes that the current recruitment crisis for doctors and nurses in primary care is real and will only worsen if additional extra resource is not found to support General Practice in Wales

ii. urges the Welsh Government to engage all stakeholders in the provision of GMS services to ensure that the impending crisis in the GP workforce is addressed

iii. considers that the time for further project groups, working parties, task and finish groups is past and action on the GP workforce is required urgently if GMS services for patients are to be maintained

iv. needs to encourage initiatives to improve morale amongst our current workforce, as this would automatically impact positively on recruitment and retention.

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