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Practice set to close after three years without a GP

A surgery that has been without a GP for three years is now being threatened with closure. 

The Mariners Surgery in Ferryside, west Wales, has only had nurse sessions since 2016, due to difficulty in recruiting GPs.

Plans have now been revealed to close the surgery and relocate its services elsewhere. 

It follows a string of GP shortages across Wales which have led to closures across the region

Patients have expressed concern over their ability to access healthcare if the practice closes. The Mariners Surgery is affiliated to the Meddygfa Minafon practice, which has sites in Kidwelly and Trimsaran, but these are almost four and eight miles respectively from the Carmarthenshire village.

A petition to maintain the surgery said: ‘We need a doctor, a nurse and a dispensary to provide the vital services required by a village where most residents are over the age of 50.

‘It is an integral part of Calon y Fferi Community centre which is very accessible. Visiting the centre is an opportunity to meet people and mitigates against loneliness and isolation. Public transport is very infrequent which makes using other medical centres very difficult for people with mobility problems. It would be a backward step to oblige all residents to leave the village for treatment.’

Dr Phil White, chair of the BMA’s GPC Wales, told Pulse: ‘General practice in Wales is under intense pressure and doctors are frequently being asked to do more with less, pushing the profession towards dangerous levels of stress and burn out. We’re facing a recruitment crisis and we simply don’t have enough doctors to keep up with patient demand, particularly in more rural areas of the country.

‘These recruitment issues are partly caused by the workload pressures for medical professionals, as working in primary care becomes a less attractive prospect and GPs who are currently in work stare down the barrel of potentially huge pension charges, being forced to retire earlier or face penalties.

‘High quality patient care is always the priority, and the current situation of patients facing difficulties in accessing appointments, doctors suffering from stress and burnout and practices sadly handing back their keys to their health board is just not sustainable.

‘The gap continues to grow between the demand placed upon general practice and its capacity and change needs to come.’

Dr Eamonn Jessup, a GP in Prestatyn, North Wales, added: ‘The Government can’t say they’ve not been warned. As always, it’s areas of greatest need, isolation and poverty that seem to be failing to attract GPs.

‘There are valiant attempts to boost the numbers of recruits coming into Wales, but no guarantees they will stay long term or commit to the areas of greatest need. North and West Wales are feeling this at its worst, and I just hope that primary care doesn’t collapse in more areas.’

Jill Paterson, director of primary care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: ‘As a Health Board we are committed to listening to and engaging with local populations around our proposals to relocate our primary care services from Mariners Surgery to neighbouring surgeries and we would therefore like to invite residents to come along and get involved in the conversation.

‘Following a review of how services are used by patients at the surgery, it is becoming clear that these services are limited and not fully utilised and could be relocated to Minafon and Trimsaran Surgeries.’

The Welsh health minister also announced that the amount of GP training places in the country is set to increase by almost 18% this autumn.