N.Wales GP prac­tices fac­ing clo­sure by the score with­out help

North Wales Weekly News - - NEWS - BY RACHEL FLINT

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

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