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Financially ‘unsustainable’ to run a practice, say GPs

The state of general practice in Wales and Northern Ireland has been laid bare by survey results published this week.

In Wales, funding pressures mean 42% of GPs believe it is now financially unsustainable to run a practice.

Reiterating its call for general practice to receive 11% of the NHS budget, RCGP leaders said things have to change.

In a survey of 137 GPs, 31% of GPs, said at least once a week, are so stressed they feel they cannot cope and almost a quarter said they would be unlikely to be working in general practice in five years.

The vast majority of GPs said the funding available from all sources for general practice is not enough and 72% of GPs say they expected working in general practice to get worse in the next five years.

In Northern Ireland, an RCGP survey found that GPs have dire concerns about how they will manage patient demand through winter pressures.

The college reported that 89% of 127 GPs surveyed are concerned that their increased workload during the winter months will negatively affect their ability to deliver patient care.

It follows a survey of more than 1,000 English GPs which also found almost a third of GPs did not think they would be working in general practice five years from now with stress being the main factor.

Dr Mair Hopkin and Dr Peter Saul, joint chairs of RCGP Wales, said have outlined the case for more funding in a new report ‘Transforming general practice: Building a profession fit for the future’.

They have asked Welsh government who are currently in the process of negotiating a new Welsh GP contract for a ‘step change’ in funding.

‘More of the same won’t deliver the best results for an ageing population with an increase in multiple, long-term conditions.

‘Patients need to be able to access services in their community and get help before issues get worse.

‘Things need to change. GPs deserve better and patients deserve better.’

RCGP Northern Ireland are asking patients to relieve pressure on general practice by managing minor ailments at home and seeking advice from a pharmacist.

RCGPNI chair Dr Grainne Doran said: ‘GPs strive to provide the very best care to all of our patients. Over the winter period, there is no doubt that our workload hugely increases.

‘For more minor conditions such as coughs and colds, patients can get great advice and over the counter medicines from local pharmacies.

She added: ‘This will be faster and more efficient and will help ensure appointments with a doctor are available for those who need them most.’