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Recruitment crisis ‘threatens the practice of family medicine’, Welsh LMCs warn

Difficulties recruiting full-time GPs in Wales ‘threatens the practice of family medicine as we currently know it’, Welsh LMCs have warned.

Delegates at the Welsh LMCs conference, held on Saturday in Chester, urged the Welsh Government to address the impending ‘crisis’ and to work with the deaneries to recruit more GPs.

They unanimousy passed a motion predicting that ‘if the impending recruitment crisis is not addressed, some areas of Wales will be unable to provide the full range of General Medical Services envisaged in the strategic planning documents issued in recent years.’

A motion warning that ‘rural recruitment difficulties threaten the practice of family medicine as we know it’ was also passed unanimously.

The conference agreed that the difference in net income between Welsh GPs and their English counterparts, as well as a failure to recruit to the GP vocational training scheme in Wales in 2012, would compound the workforce crisis.

Delegates voted to mandate the GPC to investigate ways of promoting both local recruitment, and the retention of GPs in their posts, including asking the Welsh Government why the scheme to develop a lead employer of GP trainees has stalled, and for funding to install clinical fellows in all parts of Wales.

Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales, said recruitment shortages would ‘definitely impact on patient care’.

He said: ‘General practice is becoming less of an attractive career across the UK but especially in Wales and ultimately GPs will vote with their feet. We’re facing a significant recruitment and retention crisis on top of various other issues that are going on. We need to address this as a matter of absolute urgency.’

Dr Jonathan Jones, executive member of North Wales LMC, said there was a serious shortage of GPs in his area.

‘On 1 April one practice of four doctors will be two and a half, another practice of four will become two, and one practice will disappear,’ he said. ‘The practice of two and a half doctors ask me “If one is ill, then there’s only one and a half doctors – is it even safe to open our doors?”’

‘Doctors have become “Sod it, I’m off”. We need new primary care services in these areas. The Welsh Assembly Government must work with deaneries to address our crisis.’