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Welsh budget agreement makes no provision for general practice

A new 2-year, £210m budget deal agreed by the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru includes £40 million for mental health and £7m for undergraduate medical training in North Wales, but makes no provision for general practice.

The deal, which is necessary because the Labour Government doesn’t have a majority in the Assembly, includes funding for a number of infrastructure projects plus ’a £40m boost for mental health funding over 2 years’.

But RCGP Wales chair Dr Rebecca Payne has said it is ‘deeply disappointing’ that the budget makes no provision for general practice, and called on the Welsh Government to ‘back up words with action’ and invest 11% of the NHS budget in general practice.

‘This budget is a missed opportunity,’ she said.

‘The Government know that health and social care services have to change to meet the needs of our population.

‘This means that care will move away from hospitals and will instead be delivered within the community, closer to people’s homes.’

‘This is the right approach to take but it will not be possible without substantial investment to strengthen general practice to ensure that all patients receive high quality, timely care.’

Dr Payne added that general practice was facing a workforce crisis with almost a quarter of GPs aged 55 or older and likely to retire in the next decade.

‘This will have massive consequences for patient care as many will find that they need to wait longer to see their family doctor.

‘When we combine this with the aging population living with more complex health needs the spending plans simply don’t address the challenge this brings,’ she said.

The RCGP has calculated that 485 additional GPs are needed in Wales by 2021 and have proposed increasing GP training places to 200 a years and doing more to prevent GPs leaving the profession.

‘GPs up and down the country are getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of concrete progress or commitments from Welsh Government.

‘RCGP Wales hopes that the Welsh Government will listen to our concerns and make sure that for the sake of patients, general practice is not forgotten.’