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Practices set to close as morale plummets following cuts to Welsh global sum

GPs in North Wales have warned that the government’s decision to cut more than £11m from the global sum to fund the state-backed indemnity scheme will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many practices.

The news has prompted GPs already struggling with severe recruitment problems to reconsider their GMS contracts.

GPs across Wales have expressed outrage at the £2.88 per patient funding cut.

But in North Wales – where GPs have been battling to keep services sustainable in an area with the highest number of health board managed practices – the decision could have a disastrous impact, doctors leaders warn.

Dr Philip Banfield, a member of the Welsh BMA Council tweeted that the funding cut ‘is having an immediate and catastrophic collapse of morale from GP colleagues in North Wales’.

Dr Conor Close, a partner of a 9,700-patient practice in Colwyn Bay, North Wales says the cut is a step too far for his surgery.

‘After retirements and the national recruitment crisis I am left as the only partner but have two excellent salaried GPs and two ANPs.

‘We have to cover the rest of the clinical rota with locums.

‘Reducing the global sum is potentially the final straw in the long-term viability of the practice.’

He added: ‘The practice is likely to lose thousands of pounds of income putting increasing strain on a decision we have taken to continue as a GMS practice, rather than resigning our contract.’

Dr Close added that the move will further reduce the attractiveness of partnership, worsening recruitment problems and will increase the number of practices handing contracts back.

Dr Eamonn Jessup, co-treasurer of North Wales LMC said: ‘The new deal on indemnity is a nail in the coffin for many practices.’

Having recently provided locum cover in Dr Close’s practice he added: ‘These guys are excellent GPs and I am just so sad that they have been put in this position.

‘This global sum reduction has created such a terrible position, with an already critical situation with sustainability now seeming to be terminally irreversible.’

North Wales LMC chair Dr Sara Bodey said the response from her colleagues across North Wales has been completely understandable given the pressures they are already working under

‘I think at this stage we need to wait and see whether there is recognition in Welsh Government of the impact of this decision on already low morale within the GP workforce.

‘I hope the politicians listen to and attempt to understand this response.

‘I hope they come back to negotiations with both an improved understanding of and a willingness to address the reality in which my constituents are struggling to provide patient care.’