BMA representatives in North Wales have warned that locums working at health board-managed practices are being faced with an ‘unacceptable workload’.
The North East Wales BMA division said locums working at GP surgeries managed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board were being put under serious pressure having to manage upwards of 5,000 patients.
Dr Farook Jishi, division secretary, said they put a motion forward to the BMA annual conference after the issue was raised with them multiple times.
They said a single locum doctor working in one of the health board managed practices could have 5,300 patients on their list due to a shortage of staff.
Dr Jishi said they had called on the Welsh Government to take active steps to alleviate this workload.
‘It is hard enough for GPs when it is their own patients and they know the area,’ he said.
‘There is a problem in Wales in recruiting doctors but particularly in North West Wales.
‘It puts a tremendous amount of stress on doctors and many are leaving the profession.’
The health board has been forced to take over a number of practices after they were threatened with closure when partners resigned or retired and there was no one to take over.
Analysis from the BMA earlier this year warned 70 practices in Wales were at risk of being forced to close.
Plans to train new doctors in community-based medical places in North Wales were announced recently by the Welsh government to try to attract GPs to the area.
GPs in North Wales had warned they were struggling to compete with locum fees offered by NHS-managed practices to try and entice the few number of available doctors.
In October last year Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board had been forced to run some sessions at a practice in Wrexham with no GPs after struggling to find enough locums to fill the rotas.
Gareth Bowdler, east area medical director for the health board said: ‘We are working hard to provide the best quality primary care services for patients as possible.
‘Recruitment of GPs is an ongoing challenge due to an unprecedented shortage of GPs nationally.’
He added they were doing everything they could to recruit salaried, permanent GPs to their practices.
‘We have successfully recruited more allied health professionals such as prescribing nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists to work in surgeries in the East area to help ease the workload for our GPs.’