RCGP creates recovery plan for out-of-hours services in Wales

The RCGP has outlined a new plan to tackle the issues being faced by out-of-hours services in Wales

As reported last month, out-of-hours GP services in Wales are not meeting the national standards due to increasing stress caused primarily by low morale.

At the time, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) stated that Welsh government needed to take steps immediately; now the College has compiled some of its own practical advice.

It states that the government, alongside local health boards, must begin to take five “essential and achievable steps” to turn GP out-of-hours services in Wales around to ensure patients receive the care they sorely need.

A new action plan – Meeting urgent needs: Improving out of hours services in Wales – by the RCGP requests that more call handlers are taken on as long wait times on the telephone are driving people to give up and call 999 instead, thus affecting other resources.

The plan also calls for more efficient use of primary care teams and technology and clearer guidance for those teams, as well as new measures regarding the wider issues impacting general practice.

It’s clear that patients in Wales are struggling to access services while GPs in the nation are attempting to keep up with demand – but it’s not quite enough.

Dr Rebecca Payne, RCGP Wales chair, said of these issues and the organisation’s new plans:

“Patients’ needs don’t stop when practices close but evidence is mounting that accessing out of hours services is too difficult.

“GPs are going above and beyond to try and make things work, but the support to deliver services simply isn’t there and patients are feeling the effects.

“The recommendations in our plan are essential, but also achievable. We are not asking for the moon; call handlers should be relatively simple to recruit, they are trained to follow clinically developed pathways and increasing their number would deliver a clear benefit. Patients being unable to access services is a waste of their time and diverts demand to other areas of the health service.

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“Wales also needs out of hours services to reflect the modern nature of the primary care workforce, while ensuring services are aided by technology that already exists. Another improvement would be something as basic as staff having clearer guidance to work to.

“The recommendations outlined in our plan would lead to a real improvement in services. Welsh Government and local health boards need to recognise the scale of the problem and implement these solutions as a matter of urgency.”

CREDIT: This story was originally seen on RCGP.org.uk

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