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Welsh GPs call for more support for independent contractors

The Welsh Government needs to commit to the independent contractor GP model and invest accordingly, the LMCs conference has said.

At its annual meeting this weekend, the conference of Welsh LMCs voted in favour of ‘urgent investment’ in the model.

Delegates also voted that the Government should undertake a review into the costs of health-board managed practices.

This comes as BMA Wales previously warned health boards are running up large overspends as a result of running managed practices.

And analysis by the RCGP showed the number of patients registered at health-board run practices in Wales has increased by 885% over the past five years.

In her conference speech, Welsh GPC chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘It is a fact that sadly all too many practices cannot see any other option but to hand back their keys to the health board.’

She said this included at least 21 practices having handed back their contract, 29 practices being health board managed, 37 practices having submitted sustainability support applications to the health board and a further 45 practices deemed at risk.

She said this meant ‘over 50, 000 patients have seen their own practice closed and a further 310,000 patients are registered at practices that are at risk of closing’.

Dr Jones said the figures ‘coupled with the increasing strain being experienced by practices’ shows ‘the sheer crisis within the profession’.

And she concluded: ‘It is a fact that the independent contractor model is best for the patients of Wales and is the most cost-effective option for those who hold the purse strings in both Welsh Government and health boards.’

Other motions passed at the conference included:

  • Urging the Government to mitigate the impact of last-man-standing issues;
  • Asking the Government to adopt the Scottish model for ownership of GP premises;
  • That GP clusters should have financial independence and control of community budgets;
  • Negotiating incentives to retain GPs close to retirement;
  • Renumeration for GPs for work around GDPR compliance;
  • An external audit of the NWIS GP IT procurement process.

Motions in full

That conference asks the Welsh Government to undertake a review of the costs of health board-managed practices and ensure that investment in Independent Contractor general practice is not detrimentally impacted as consequence of health board expenditure on managed practices – PASSED

That conference encourages the Welsh Government to make up its mind whether it truly wants to preserve the independent contractor status of general practice; if so urgent investment is required to allow this model to continue, otherwise GMS will collapse by default, as the collapse of GMS practice is already happening in rural / deprived areas of Wales – PASSED

Source: BMA Wales