GPs have urged the Welsh Government carry out an urgent review of out-of-hours services in Wales, warning it is becoming too risky for GPs to manage the workload and services are becoming unsustainable.
At the annual Welsh LMCs conference in Cardiff, GPs voted overwhelmingly in support of an ‘urgent review of the sustainability of out-of-hours service across Wales, to ensure that patients have access to appropriate urgent primary medical care during the out-of-hours period’.
Putting the motion, Dr Heather Evans from Dyfed Powys LMC said health boards’ ‘short-sighted’ cost-saving policies had led to damaging changes in triage and difficulties getting enough GPs to cover out-of-hours rotas.
Dr Evans said: ‘In our area, changing doctor triage to nurse triage has led to an increase in patients being seen in out-of-hours for trivial complaints that should have been dealt with easily with telephone advice or seeing their own GP the next day, and there has been an increase in 999 calls to the ambulance service because the computer algorithm doesn’t allow common sense to prevail.
‘Because of the political interference the public now believes it is reasonable to use the out-of-hours service in the evenings an at weekends for convenience not need. Yet there are fewer doctors working each shift, increasing the workload for each individual doctor on call to the point where they feel the risks involved are too great and it has become increasingly difficult to find doctors wiling to provide out-of-hours cover at all.
‘As a result, our LMC has grave concerns about the sustainability of out-of-hours across West Wales.’
Urging delegates to support the motion, GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘It’s not been done recently and it will be critical if 111 is to work and integrate with out-of-hours services.
‘I think we know the answer but it would be good to have the proof.’
Motion in full
That conference requests that Welsh Government undertakes an urgent review of the sustainability of Out of Hours service across Wales, to ensure that patients have access to appropriate urgent primary medical care during the out of hours period.