This site is intended for health professionals only

18 Welsh practices forced to apply for health body support

Around 18 practices in Wales submitted ‘sustainability applications’ for extra support from health boards, but many more are at risk, LMCs have said.

The practices made the applications between October 2015 and October 2016, and BMA Wales has urged practices who fear they may have to close, hand back their contract, or reduce services to seek help as early as possible.

While the picture is changing all the time, the snapshot shows practices across Wales facing severe difficulties or considering approaching their health board for assistance.

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said in their survey 82.1% of GPs across Wales had voiced serious concerns about the sustainability of their practice, which was ‘extremely worrying’ but that they should not delay in seeking assistance.

‘We recognise the enormous stresses placed on GPs across Wales.

‘If surgeries are facing closure, handing back their contract to the Health Board or a reduction in services, we would encourage them to seek support early on.

‘We would advise struggling practices to consider GPC Wales’ advice documents, followed by urgently contacting their LMC for support,’ she said.

There has been a reluctance among some practices to submit sustainability applications for several reasons including the need to provide financial information before knowing if help would be available, the BMA said.

More ‘pro-active engagement’ is needed to make the process more effect, a spokesperson advised.

For practices submitting a sustainability application, they are given a risk score to determine their risk of closure within the year or whether it is likely they would have to cut the range of services they could provide.

Then a panel discusses that risk alongside additional input from the health board and LMC.

Depending on the needs of a practice, support offered can include help to manage workload, additional healthcare professionals, back office staff and financial support.

Dr Jones said GPC Wales would advise practices in this position to consider completing the sustainability framework ‘to help inform discussions’ with health boards.

‘Ultimately, fundamental change is needed to tackle these issues, to ensure the future sustainability of the Welsh NHS,’ she said.