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Whole region risks 'losing general practice' due to GP shortage

The majority of areas in North Wales are at risk of losing general practice provision altogether if recruitment problems are not addressed urgently, the LMC chair has warned.

In a letter to Welsh Assembly Members, Dr Eamonn Jessup said a situation they had warned about a few years ago was now coming to pass.

‘Wrexham now has six large practices that have lost their GPs,’ Dr Jessup said.

‘The [health board] are directly managing these practices, along with many others across North Wales.’

He adds: ‘The number of practices moving to "managed status" seems to have picked up significant speed in the last few months.’

The letter points out that North Wales is significantly more affected by the problems facing general practice than the rest of the country with practices unable to recruit GPs and that the ‘domino effect that has long been forecast is now seriously looming on the horizon’.

Many GPs in the area are leaving the profession prematurely through retirement, resignation or emigration, he says.

Dr Jessup points out that Colwyn Bay, Conwy and Llandudno now have practices either currently managed or about to become managed.

And the Lleyn peninsula is also badly affected, with Criccieth practice recently handing in their notice.

With health board run practices costing around a third more to run, the growing number will have a ‘significant impact on the health economy of the region’, he warns AMs.

Out of hours is also struggling with stretched services that have large gaps in provision.

The LMC is calling on cross-party action to address the fundamental problems behind the crisis.

‘Just this week, we were distressed to hear that trainee posts appear to have been withdrawn from the pool that exists in North Wales.

‘Good candidates have moved up to North Wales in anticipation of applying for these posts and are left disappointed by this seemingly precipitous decision,’ he said.

Dr Jessup explains: ‘The low level of numbers of posts over many years has left the region with a serious deficit of younger GPs amongst our cohort.’

The result he adds is a ‘second class system’ in North Wales which has been ‘disproportionately badly affected’ by recruitment problems.

In addition to an expansion of training schemes, the LMC called for better support for the traditional model of practice ‘as the most economically viable way to deliver Primary Care’.

Readers' comments (20)

  • Pay them ( enough ) and they will come.

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  • If you worked for the health board you would be happy as it would help guarantee your job. They simply don't care if it costs a third more. That cost can be absorbed.

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  • Council of Despair

    bit confused - why is this a problem ?

    surely the patient list will just be dispersed to nearby practices ?

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  • 8.01pm.....that is the problem. Practices that are already at or near breaking point simply cannot accommodate a sudden influx of additional patients....for some GPS this will tip them over the edge towards resignation, early retirement or burnout if they cannot afford either of the first two options. As a locum doing surgeries with a limit on number of patients, admin, visits and overall hours....with no additional paperwork or prescriptions I don't think you can truly appreciate the stress that this would cause.

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  • Cobblers

    8:24 "I don't think you can truly appreciate the stress that this would cause"

    Which is why I am no longer a GP Principal after 33 years as one. I locum now and enjoy medicine. Reminds me of why I went into the job in the first place.

    R L E you know it makes sense.

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  • Council of Despair

    Ladyham | GP Partner/Principal18 Aug 2017 8:24pm

    That is really bad news - but why are GP partners accepting this?

    why don't they just close their lists for safety reasons? I would have thought that the LMC / GPC would be supportive?

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  • It's all about destabilising GP practices. So long as there are GPs or PAs, N Practioners, or Clinical Pharmacists to take on the new generic cross practice and ED roles the powers that be will be happy. All salaried PAYE of course. Forget about continuing care.

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  • ..... and on the plus side the tide of negativity from the grassroots should fall to undetectable soon .... HSL will be pleased.... nothing to stop the children signing their lives away... except the lack of senior support etc .... it could be provided by Skype from a ivory tower in London ... at £ 150 per hour... a job I might apply for ... would never actually have to see another patient again 🤸🏽‍♂️

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  • The (long term economic) Tory plan working

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  • I think it is important we all keep closed minds,stick to the dogma,never consider any alternative ideas.
    After all that is what keeps GP great
    Clearly this is the fault of............etc
    as already stated.
    There is no possibility that the Welsh deanery are simply incapable of recruiting, and training doctors to do the job.
    You would expect a monopoly provider, slavishly following college guidelines, to adapt to the current circumstances.
    After all that is how any large successful corporation works
    You don't see Apple or BMW adapting
    No stick to same people same ideas same process and expect a different outcome

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