National Association for Patient Participation

Welsh Health Questions: EMIS, IT Failure, OOH Provision

02 February 2018

This week’s Health Questions in the Welsh Assembly would be of interest for many GPs, with topics under the spotlight including EMIS, the IT failure and out of hours provision.

EMIS

 As soon as the EMIS news broke on Tuesday morning we contacted relevant political stakeholders to ensure they understood the importance of the issue.

During Health Questions Caroline Jones AM (UKIP Health Spokesperson) directly referenced the College’s warning that it could be detrimental to patients, risked forcing GPs out of the profession, and was a difficult ask for an already overstretched profession.

Vaughan Gething AM (Welsh Labour), Cabinet Secretary for Health, said he was unable to go into detail on the issue because of the period of potential legal challenge, but added a full statement was upcoming. He acknowledged concerns about the possibility of GPs leaving the profession and said:

“That’s why the continuing nature of our conversation with both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners really do matter. I want them to be assured that there is a real will and commitment from the Government and the wider health service to support them in doing so and to continue to provide excellent, high-quality care to every community in Wales.”

Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Welsh Conservative) has also tabled two written questions which the Cabinet Secretary is due to answer next week, ensuring that this issue will not go away. The first question is to ask why EMIS did not pass the procurement process, and the second is to ask for a statement on RCGP Wales’ comments on EMIS.

Please be assured that the College fully understands the significance of the news around EMIS and the impact it will have on our members. We will be doing all we can to ensure it remains on the political agenda.

IT failure

 Caroline Jones AM also raised the IT failure in Wales last week. She said GPs reported they were unable to access patient records and quoted a GP who had said the situation was “very frustrating and rather dangerous”.

In response, the Cabinet Secretary said:

  • It’s not thought it was a cyber incident
  • Further work has been done to provide a new firewall
  • Systems are in a fit and proper place to move forward
  • There’s a broader question about investing in IT

Out-of-hours

Caroline Jones AM asked for a statement on out of hours services in South Wales West and asked what plans are in place to address workload pressures to enable a greater number of GPs to provide out of hours care. Vaughan Gething said he expected safe and effective services. He spoke of the future of local healthcare, with GPs increasingly working in integrated teams, and emphasised the importance of scaling up good practice and making the job easier and better for GPs.

David Rees AM (Welsh Labour) welcomed the 111 approach in South Wales West, saying it avoided unnecessary GP visits, but expressed concern about out of hours provision. Vaughan Gething recognised the “fragility” in some parts of the system and said getting 111 right (with GPs working in broader teams) would help GPs continue to staff out of hours service.

Planning

Mick Antoniw AM (Welsh Labour) asked about the role of community health councils in the planning process. He said there needed to be more engagement with health boards and GP practices around the impact of large housing developments, and suggested community health councils could play a role there.

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RCGP Wales is determined that issues relevant to GPs are discussed and acted upon on the political agenda. As always, please get in touch if there are any issues of concern to you! You can contact us at welshc@rcgp.org.uk or follow us on Twitter at @RCGPWales.

 

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