N.Wales GP practices facing closure by the score without help
MORE than half of GP surgeries in North Wales are at risk of closing in the next 12 months, a leading doctor has warned.
Last week the Welsh Government acknowledged the scale of the crisis by announcing it would offer support to those practises in danger.
Surgeries will be able to apply to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board for management and workload support or for more staff.
North Wales Local Medical Committee (LMC) vice-chairman Dr Sara Bodey believes that scores of surgeries across the region will need that Government support to survive.
Dr Bodey, a partner at Bradley’s Practice in Buckley, has repeatedly called on the Welsh Government to step in to save the profession after saying it was on “the verge of extinction”.
She said: “It may well be that over half of GP practices in North Wales would meet the criteria now, and many others are only one GP leaving away from doing so.
“The sustainability framework is encouraging in as much as it shows Welsh Government is now acknowledging the issues.”
But Dr Bodey expressed concern about the application process and said the system needed further clarification as to how boards would deal with the “at risk” surgeries.
“The biggest issue is of course the lack of medical and nursing staff and there just isn’t an instant rem- edy for this,” she said.
The support package, which is part of the Welsh Government’s plans to reform primary care services, will see surgeries apply to their local health board for help.
They will then have to set out their case for why they need rescuing to an “assessment panel” before they will receive support.
The health minister Professor Mark Drakeford said strengthening primary care services was a “priority”.
He said: “Our aim is to create a stronger, highly-trained primary care workforce, which can deliver a widerange of services in local communities, reducing our dependence on hospital-based care.
“The new sustainability framework puts in place a clear system to ensure at-risk GP practices can apply for support, as part of the reform of primary care which health boards are delivering as part of improving services for the public.”
Health minister Mark Drakeford