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GPC declares war on extended opening in Wales

GPC Wales says it ‘has no intention' of renegotiating the GP contract to make GPs in Wales work evening and weekends, despite being put under pressure by the Welsh government to increase GP access.

In a keynote address to Welsh LMCs conference Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales, said GPC negotiators will resist attempts by the Welsh Government to get GPs to open between 8am and 8pm during the week and run Saturday morning clinics. Dr Bailey warned that Welsh GPs are at ‘workload saturation' and said any worsening of the situation will trigger a recruitment crisis.

Dr Bailey said that Welsh GPs have been ‘very pro-active' in improving patient access by reducing half day closing and providing appointments after 5pm. But he said that longer access must be negotiated and funded via a Direct Enhanced Service or contracting with out-of-hours organisations and ruled out any renegotiation of the UK contract ‘to make Welsh GPs work evenings and weekends.'

Delivering his annual report to the conference Dr Bailey said:‘It is proposals for 8-8 opening and Saturday morning access to GPs which have caused most concern.'

‘To be clear, GPC Wales has no intention to renegotiate the UK contract to make Welsh GPs work evenings and weekends. I'll repeat that – no intention of negotiating for Welsh GPs to work evenings and weekends.'

‘GPs in Wales are at workload saturation, consulting more and earning less on average than our English colleagues, and any worsening of this balance will decimate recruitment.'

‘If longer access is a genuine priority with shrinking resources then it must be via a negotiated and funded DES or by contracting with out-of-hours organisations.'

The GPC Wales chair also paid tribute to Dr David Roberts, previous chairman of Dyfed Powys LMC, who died unexpectedly last October. Dr Bailey said: ‘David was a lovely man who spoke only last year at this meeting. He will be much missed and I would invite you all to stand for a minute in his memory.'