Actions for a brighter future for patients in Wales
Strengthening General Practice in Wales
RCGP Wales new publication Strengthening General Practice – Actions for a brighter future for patients in Wales - Cryfhau Ymarfer Cyffredinol - Creu gwell dyfodol i gleifion yng Nghymru sets out a wide-ranging plan for the future of general practice.
This document, which has been shared with the Welsh Government, has been produced by RCGP Wales prior to the 2016 National Assembly elections. It highlights key actions that must be taken to help equip the NHS in Wales to meet the needs of patients, and to deliver a safe, secure and strong general practice.
Ensuring that everyone can rely on the care provided by their local GP practice is fundamental to maintaining a safe, effective and compassionate NHS. In recent years, concerns have been growing that overstretched GP surgeries are struggling to cope with rising demand for care – and we know the public are worried about the future of their local services.
General practice delivers 90% of patient care in the NHS, but funding for patient care in general practice has been falling – from 8.8% of NHS funding in 2005-2006 to 7.8% in 2012-2013. Real terms spending on general practice in Wales has dropped by £27 million compared to four years ago.
Wales is also facing a GP workforce crisis – with the number of GPs in Wales actually falling from 2,026 to 2,006 (-20) over the last year, compared to a rise in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Over 23% of our GPs are over 55 and many are choosing to retire early, often due to work pressures and stress. Wales ranks third in the UK in GP coverage per population and RCGP Wales estimates that we will need an additional 95 GPs this year just to reach the UK average. We will need even more to replace those who leave and far more to meet the needs and challenges ahead.
Strengthening General Practice – Actions for a brighter future sets out five overarching actions that must be taken by the Welsh Government to strengthen general practice for the future:
Boosting the number of GPs – increase the number of GPs by 400 by 2020
Expanding the general practice family – promote the role of other health care professionals, such as practice nurses and pharmacists
Promoting integrated care – provide services in the community and support GP clusters
Improving infrastructure – Equip GP premises to deal with the growing number of patients
Ongoing, sustained investment in general practice – invest 11% of the Welsh NHS budget in general practice