North Wales facing GP ‘recruitment crisis’ leading doctor warns

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Daily Post

Dr Eamonn Jessup says there is a ‘dwindling ability’ to replace or retain doctors putting practices under threat, the Daily Post reports.

Too many GPs are retiring or emigrating and not enough new recruits are willing to work in North Wales, a leading doctor has warned.

As a result of the ‘recruitment crisis’, surgeries are being forced to get the health board to step in to run their practices, says Dr Eamonn Jessup who has written to AMs to raise the issue.

Dr Jessup, the chairman the North Wales Local Medical Committee which represents local GPs, says Wrexham is the worst affected county with coastal towns like Conwy and Colwyn Bay and parts of rural Gwynedd not far behind.

In the letter, he wrote: “Wrexham now has six large practices that have lost their GPs. The health board are directly managing these practices, along with many others across North Wales.

“The number of practices moving to ‘managed status’ seems to have picked up significant speed in the last few months.”

He added: “Whilst Wrexham is at the most acute end of this problem the North Wales coastal strip is not far behind, Colwyn Bay, Conwy and Llandudno now have practices either currently managed or about to become managed.

“The Llyn Peninsula is also badly affected, Criccieth practice having just given in their notice of closure.

“The domino effect that has long been forecast is now seriously looming on the horizon.”

The loss of GPs was being exacerbated by an inability to find replacements: “At the heart of all this is a dwindling ability to retain GPs in North Wales, many of whom are leaving the profession prematurely by reason of retirement, resignation or emigration.

“We are also unable to recruit GPs to North Wales,” he added.

There was also a lack of long term undergraduate student placements and postgraduate trainee places.

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Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said: “The letter is a cry for help from those at the frontline of NHS services in North Wales.

“GPs in the region have been warning of a recruitment crisis for years but the Welsh government has buried its head in the sand and failed to take the steps required to secure the new doctors we need.”

A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesperson said: “We face similar challenges to many other areas in the UK responding to the changing nature of general practice, and the way it is being delivered.

“We continue to work constructively with all of our partnership organisations, including the LMC, to deliver the best possible care for patients across North Wales.

“We’ve seen considerable success in using new models of working, and will continue to work hard to find solutions to the challenges identified.”

A Welsh government spokesperson said:“The sustainability of high quality primary care services across the whole Wales is a priority for us.

“As a result of the agreed changes to the GP contract for 2017/18, investment in general medical service will increase by around £27m, which provides a strong platform for GPs to continue to provide high quality, sustainable healthcare.

Health boards are also supporting GP practices where there is a service sustainability issue through their primary care support teams.

“In addition, we have also worked with health boards and BMA Wales to revise the GP Sustainability Assessment Framework which enables early proactive engagement by heath boards to identify and support practices considered vulnerable to changes to service delivery.

“Through our successful This is Wales: Train, Work, Live campaign, designed to market Wales and NHS Wales as an attractive place to work, we are successfully recruiting more GPs to work in Wales.”

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