More than 24,000 see their local surgery shut
MORE than 24,000 patients have seen their GP surgery shut in North Wales in the last five years.
Figures from a Freedom of Information request show the numbers of GP surgeries in the region closing on the rise. Since 2013, 10 surgeries and 17 branch surgeries have shut meaning 24,139 patients have had to change their practice.
In the same time the total number of GP surgeries in North Wales has gone from 116 to 109 and branch surgeries has dropped from 66 to 57.
There has been a steady number of closures since 2013, with two shutting that year and the same number in 2016/17 but in 2015/16 and 2017/18 the number for surgery closures was three in both of those years.
Dr Graham Thomas, a partner in the Corwen Family Practice, which had faced an uncertain future after retirements in 2013, felt the figures were not a shock as the region dealt with a crisis when it came to the number of GPs practising.
He said: “I think it’s unsurprising but depressing to see the number of surgeries closing appears to be increasing and affecting thousands of patients.
“From a GP perspective there are so many vulnerable and there is no end in sight. In some ways GPs are victims of their own success in that we have created patients reliant on highly intensive care and the failure to train more GPs has meant our chickens have come home to roost.
“The daily routine is intense but it’s still a great job but best enjoyed part time.”
A spokeswoman for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “The sustainability of high quality primary care services is a priority for the board and we are supporting GP practices where there is a service sustainability issue.
“Where independently run GP practices have been unable to continue and have handed back their contracts, the health board has either found a new provider or taken over provision to ensure the local population has access to GP services.
“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.
“We continue to do everything we can to recruit salaried, permanent GPs including advertisements which are currently open and dedicated recruitment events to showcase opportunities within primary care in North Wales.
“The traditional model of GP practice is changing across the UK.
“We have invested in highly qualified practitioners such as pharmacists and prescribing nurses, who offer an effective service and see many patients as an alternative to a GP appointment where appropriate.”