Extended hours pricing not agreed in Wales

WELSH LMCs' CONFERENCE: Welsh earnings gap is undermining GP recruitment and service levels.

A deal on extended hours in Wales could yet be derailed because of fears about payments, warns GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey.

In his speech to the Welsh LMCs conference near Cardiff on Saturday, Dr Bailey praised the Welsh Assembly government for negotiating a deal that provided 'maximum flexibility for practices and patients and maximum safety for staff'.

However, he warned: 'We have yet to agree pricing. I have made it clear that any agreement must value the commitment of Welsh practices at the same level as England and Scotland.'

Dr Bailey said he would expect to see Welsh GPs paid at the same pro-rata rate as their English counterparts for extended hours work, and warned that he would not back any deal that widened the funding gap between English and Welsh practices.

'In the context of higher disease prevalence causing GPs in Wales to work 15 per cent harder for the same money ... I will not characterise any deal as a negotiated agreement without Welsh Assembly government funding practices equally to England,' he said.

The Assembly government has offered a more flexible deal on extended hours, and will now invest £5 million in a basket of directed enhanced services.

That basket will include services for homeless people, asylum seekers, and problem drinkers, and may also cover services for patients with diabetes or COPD.

The conference heard warnings that the income gap between England and Wales had resulted in problems recruiting doctors to work in Wales.

A quarter of Wales' GPs are of retirement age, raising concerns that local health boards will find it increasingly difficult to maintain services.

Dr Jacqueline Abbey, from Gwent LMC, told the conference: 'Wales is an attractive place to train GPs.

'But with fewer resources and a greater patient workload, many are leaving for the green hills of England,' she added.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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