More than 24,000 see their lo­cal surgery shut

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

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.”

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