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Quarter of out-of-hours shifts unfilled in one area

One in four out-of-hours shifts were left unfilled in one area of Wales, due to a growing recruitment problem, health board papers have revealed.

Figures from an Aneurin Bevan University Health Board meeting last week show that the average number of unfilled shifts per month last winter was 593, compared with 380 during the winter of 2013/14.

A failure to ‘plan for, recruit and retain staff … in key areas such as nursing and GP out of hours services’ is considered to be one of the health board’s five areas of highest risk to patient care, the papers state.

The health board, which covers the areas of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen and South Powys, is currently reviewing the provision of out-of-hours services and will report its findings in September.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board head of strategic planning Eithne Hunter said: ‘Securing clinical staff for out of hours services shifts was a particular challenge throughout 2014/15 and this challenge was heightened during the winter period.

‘Approximately 10% of shifts were unfilled during December and January, rising to 21% and 25% respectively during January and February 2015.’

He added that action must be taken to make these services ‘more robust’.

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board finance and performance committee chair David Jenkins said GP recruitment is a problem not just in the Gwent area, but throughout Wales.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Quarter of calls pointless probably also.

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  • Unless the Profession rises to the challenge of staffing OOH services we will lose the argument with Hunt over 7/7 working.

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  • "we will lose the argument with Hunt over 7/7 working."

    there is no argument, Hunt has a political position - it has never been about evidence or argument or best outcomes.

    The collapse of Medical services is an unfortunate necessity. The real shame is that people will suffer, but no doctor or nurse should be stupid enough to take on the risks of OOH without adequate support.

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  • If the indemnity costs werent so great then these shifts may be filled up a bit more - for those of us whose general income isnt quite sufficient to allow us to get onto the property ladder and do what young professionals might.

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  • "Unless the Profession rises to the challenge of staffing OOH services we will lose the argument with Hunt over 7/7 working."

    It's to expensive to pay the MDO fees
    It's too risky for GPs to do
    It's chronically underfunded
    It was outsourced to the private sector

    Why exactly is this the fault of GPs?

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  • Why don't GPs stop doing shifts en masse for a week or two? Make a barn door message!

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  • "Challenge" "Robust". These are weasel words that attemot to cover up real truths. Don't trust anyone who uses them.

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  • At £65/hour pre tax and £30 post why bother getting out of bed? to service the ego of Mr Hunt!!?

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  • To my mind successive politicians have been out to destroy General Practice since the early 90's.
    They are about so succeed as no-one with their feet on the ground would wish to plunge into a GP career in such a dire situation as we have now , both in-hour and Out of Hours.
    Or have successive politicians just been incompetent ?!?!?!?!

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  • Every area no matter who the provider is, NHS or private sector, has OOH shifts not covered. It is not only in Wales.
    NHS England has lost its way with 111 system. No matter how many doctors work in OOH, the numbers will not be enough, considering the 111 calls.
    The urgent care/OOH services need a major change. Can JH spend more time on dealing with 111 then attacking doctors?

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