Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

800,000 patients in Wales will find it difficult to get appointments, RCGP warns

The number of patients in Wales who will find it difficult to get a ‘convenient’ GP appointment could jump to a massive 800,000 by 2017, the RCGP has warned.

According to the RCGP, more than 650,000 people found it difficult to get a GP appointment last year and the problem is poised to get worse because of falling investment in general practice, problems with GP recruitment and retention and the increasing number of older people who need complex care.

The RCGP said the new figures reinforce the dire impact of the falling level of investment in general practice, with family doctors and practice nurses now carrying out 90% of patient contacts for just 7.77% of the NHS budget in Wales – down from 8.76% in 2005/06.

RCGP Wales chair Dr Paul Myres said: ‘Patients shouldn’t face a battle to get an appointment at their local GP surgery, and practices are trying their utmost to cope with the demand. But GPs across Wales are telling us they don’t have the resources to cope with the increasing number of older people who need complex care, whilst also meeting the needs of families and people of working age.’

The problem of retention and recruitment is particularly acute in North Wales as 23% of GPs are over 55 years of age. In Cwm Taf it is as high as 31%.

‘When these doctors retire we have no-one to replace them. Who is going to care for our population?’ added Myres.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Making it easier for working people to get an appointment at a time convenient to them is something we set out as a key commitment of this government. The most recent figures show we are continuing to deliver on this commitment.’

The spokesman pointed out that since 2003 the investment in general practice has increased by £147m from £322m in 2003-04 to £469m in 2012-13. Overall GP numbers have also increased by 11.2% between 2003 and 2013, resulting in the number of patients per practitioner falling by 5.4% over the same period, he added.

‘Where there are recruitment issues that need to be resolved, health boards are working with the profession to develop innovative ways of providing primary care services in future.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • "Where there are recruitment issues that need to be resolved, health boards are working with the profession to develop innovative ways of providing primary care services in future." - or, "We dont really care about GPs, but Im sure we can fill the gaps with nurses, pharmacists and other nocters"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Population of Wales is only 3.3M so 800K represents a significant proportion!
    Sounds like WAG are putting their fingers in their ears and saying "La la la.. we're not listening" but it's hard to know what else they could realistically do. they can't magic up more of us so they've gone into denial mode. FWIW there's a shortage of senior nursing staff around here in North Wales too.
    The ship is sinking, the rats are jumping off but I'm left here tied to it...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Una Coales

    Might help if the RCGP would stop putting up hurdles for IMGs to gain their CEGPR to work for the NHS as GPs at a time of national shortage crisis?

    'Now, I have passed the CSA I have applied for CEGPR. I received email from GMC today that the RCGP is unable to award me with CEGPR but has come out with some recommendations. If I could provide evidence needed, then they will assess them and grant me CEGPR if they are satisfied with them.

    My previous supervisors do not have much clues in dealing with this sort of things. However I am sure they would be more than happy to help me if they know exactly what needed to be done?'

    Might help if the government would stop putting up hurdles which has now prevented Indian doctors from getting visas to train as GPs and only spouses of doctors already working here, may apply for visas. We once had 1000s of Indian doctors a year applying for visas to work in the NHS and now it is a trickle because of the visa barriers.

    Might help, if the BMA, the doctors' trade union, allowed GPs a ballot on some form of strike action to regain control over a nightmare situation which would help retention. Instead GPs are burning out, with no control over their contract, job hours, patients seen, pay, pension, and feeling undervalued from media bashing and living under the fear of medicolegal lawsuits, CQC reviews, CCG performance reviews and GMC scrutiny of what one does during and out of work hours!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • the hope was eastern European Drs would have migrated to UK: no PLAB and no English test (remember the double standards) and then set enquiries when a patient dies.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 10:14@ well thanks; I am part of that influx from eastern europe and came into the country in 2004from Poland. Double standards? Yes certainly but then this was decided at government level and this was an EU agreement where they should have placed safeguards and check at least language skills. I think politicians are to blame for the mess and mishaps will occur.
    In this case the patient is vulnerable as is the doctor with the differnce that the doctor had the choice and messed it up.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • mps need to stop denigrating gps and denigrate bankers instead

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say