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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Welsh GPs reject Government pledge to introduce extended hours

LMC representatives in Wales have opposed a Welsh Government pledge to introduce 8 til 8 opening and Saturday working at GP surgeries, saying it would place an ‘intolerable personal and financial strain on GPs’.

In a vote carried unanimously at the Welsh LMCs conference on Saturday, LMCs agreed the plans were unworkable because the Government had failed to invest in the GP workforce.

The motion stated: ‘Conference believes the “push” from the First Minister and Welsh Government to deliver 8 til 8 opening for practices from within exisiting GMS contract resources will put intolerable personal and financial strain on GPs in Wales.

‘[Conference] urges Welsh Government not to introduce Saturday working in general practice in view of a failure to invest in the workforce.’

Putting the motion, Dr Jerome Donagh of GPC Wales said: ‘We are more accessible than we have ever been but the workload is phenomenal, in 20 odd years I have never known it to be as bad as it is now. It is really wearing me down and my staff.

‘With Saturday working, we’ll have people leaving the job. We’ve got a GP recruitment crisis… It is hard enough to get a salaried doctor, let alone a partner. This is going to absolutely bury general practice. I would urge the minister to rethink and not to do this.’

Dr Neil Statham from Gwent LMC said ‘There is no appetite for this amongst GPs. One of the main reasons for dropping this requirement in 2004 was the GP recruitment and retention crisis then and recognition of the need to introduce a family-friendly contract.

‘If Saturday morning working is introduced, the out-of-hours service may collapse completely at weekends, the GPs that currently work for them are less likely to if compelled to work in their own surgeries on a Saturday. Without a major investment in GP specialty training and consequent increase in the workforce this commitment is unworkable.

Dr Ashok Rayani from Morgannwg LMC spoke against the motion, arguing that GPs needed to ‘face the reality’ of modern life.

‘It must invest in that, I accept recurrent funding is not sufficient to deliver what the Government wants.

‘But we need to face the reality of the future. It isn’t about individually every one of you working every day of the week and going in every Saturday morning. We have to think of ways to deliver a service that is compatible with modern life.’

However, GPC Wales and conference agenda committee member Dr Charles Allanby said the plans to enforce extended opening had not been discussed with the BMA and urged conference to support the motion.

He said : ‘We have had no discussion about this manifesto promise about eight-til-eight and Saturday working.’

‘We need to be careful that nowhere in Wales is this actually being delivered at the moment and this is a manifesto promise from the first minister.’

Motion in full

That conference:

i. believes that the ‘push’ from the First Minister and Welsh Government to deliver 8 ‘til 8 opening for practices from within existing GMS contract resources will put intolerable personal and financial strain on GPs in Wales

ii. urges Welsh Government not to introduce Saturday working in General Practice in view of a failure to invest in the workforce.

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