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Health board-run practice having to run sessions with no GPs



Patients and local councillors have raised concerns about a health board-run GP practice running some sessions with no doctors.

The Pen y Maes Medical Centre in Wrexham – a town that has seen six practices hand contracts back recently – is relying on locum cover since it was taken over by the health board last year.

Local councillor Gwenfair Jones said while on some days there were four doctors available, on others there are none with nurses left to staff the surgery.

Patients and councillors are planning to attend a board meeting this week to call for more to be done.

Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board, who are currently running the practice after its previous partners retired, said they were ‘actively looking to fill vacant salaried GP positions at the practice, and will be interviewing for Advanced Nurse Practitioner posts next week’.

The statement added: ‘We continue to work hard to develop a plan for the long-term future and success of the practice, and apologise for any difficulties patients have had in booking appointments,’ a spokesperson said.

Dr Eamonn Jessup, North Wales LMC chair said he knew the situation in the practice well having done locum sessions himself.

‘The situation is that there are not enough GPs available currently to service the needs of the populations in these areas,’ he said.

He added that the health board have to manage the surgery as the only option when GMS fails but they are struggling just as much as anyone else to recruit and find cover.

‘Whilst the current situation is safe, this situation inevitably puts more pressure on out of hours and emergency department services.

‘Patients can’t get their heads around a surgery without a doctor. It feels rather like a pub with no beer and there is great difficulty in trying to get patients to think about whether a medical presentation could be better handled by another health professional rather than a doctor.’

Dr Jessup recently penned an open letter warning that most of North Wales was at risk of losing general practice provision altogether if recruitment problems were not addressed.