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Welsh patients less satisfied with their GP

GP patients in Wales have reported falling levels of satisfaction with their experience.

Figures from the National Survey for Wales for 2017/18 show that 86% of respondents said they were satisfied with the care they receive from their GP compared with 90% in 2016/17.

RCGP Wales said the drop in satisfaction is a direct result of workforce shortages and underinvestment in general practice.

The survey, which covers a wide range of topics including health, education, and local authority services also found that 42% said it was difficult to make a convenient appointment up from 38% in 2016/17.

The proportion of respondents who were happy with their last hospital appointment also fell by 2% from last year’s survey.

RCGP Wales Chair, Dr Rebecca Payne said the figures would be disappointing for GPs ‘who are working extraordinarily hard in extremely difficult circumstances’.

‘We need to be clear that this a result of workforce shortages and underinvestment in general practice.

‘They provide further evidence that the Welsh Government need to take action.’

She said specific measures were needed to boost the workforce, alleviate workload pressures, increase training places and develop a wider general practice team with other health professionals.

An RCGP analysis published in April showed general practice in Wales receives the lowest proportion of overall NHS spend, when comparing the four UK nations, at 7.3%.

‘We also need to see a significant shift in resource.

‘Welsh general practice receives a lower share of NHS spend than anywhere else in the UK and this needs to be urgently addressed.

‘Only last week we had the latest plan committing to allowing patients to access more care in their community, it will only be achieved with more support for general practice.

‘This is having a direct and negative impact on patient care and action needs to be taken.’

The contract agreement for 2017/18 saw a 1% pay uplift and 1.4% funding increase for practice general expenses and an additional £2.7m towards indemnity costs.

QOF was also reduced to disease registers as part of a strategy to take pressure off GPs.

The GMS contract in Wales is currently undergoing a ‘fundamental review’ with NHS Wales, Welsh Government and BMA representatives – with measures to stop practice closures among the top priorities.