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Surge in ‘at risk’ GP practices seeking health board support

Exclusive There has been a large increase in the number of ‘at risk’ practices seeking help from health boards in Wales, BMA figures show.

As of April there were 29 at risk practices who had submitted a sustainability application to a panel to request extra support.

A further 29 practices are uncertain about their future or have been flagged up as under threat but have not yet sought official help, the figures collected by LMCs show.

It is a substantial rise from October 2016 when 18 practices had submitted sustainability applications.

The figures on the BMA heat map, due to be published soon, also show there are now 18 practices managed by health boards up from 13 six months ago.

This comes despite revelaations that health board-run practices could be funded up to a third extra per head compared to GP-run surgeries.

Some areas have been hit harder than others, such as Powys where there are five at risk practices seeking support from the health board covering 48,000 patients.

In Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, eight practices of 62,700 patients have submitted sustainability applications and in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg there are seven practices of 42,000 patients seeking help, the BMA figures show.

Practices in Wales are being encouraged to complete the Sustainability Assessment Framework to enable them to check their current position and what risks they may be facing.

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair GPC Wales, said: ‘The number of practices “at risk” in Wales changes on a regular basis, and since GPC Wales’s last data collection, this number has increased.

‘This is of grave concern and clearly reflects the pressures facing practices, which vary considerably across Wales.’

She added: ‘Any practice struggling should apply to their health board for support. ‘This may be financial, administrative or managerial, and LMCs are represented at the sustainability panel meetings.’

But she said the amount of help offered by health boards is varied.

‘We continue to work to actively address both the problems facing practices, as well as pushing to ensure practices receive the support they need from health boards,’ she said.