GPs in Wales warn profession is on brink of extinction

GPs in Wales are becoming 'an endangered species' and the profession risks collapse without urgent action to tackle the workforce crisis, Welsh LMC leaders have warned.

Welsh LMCs conference: senior GPs dressed as pandas (Photo: Siobhan Chan)
Welsh LMCs conference: senior GPs dressed as pandas (Photo: Siobhan Chan)

Speaking at the Welsh LMCs conference in Cardiff on 28 February, Dr Mike Griffiths, from Gwent LMC, said: ‘We’re not recruiting enough GPs to replace the ones who are leaving, whether through emigration, retirement or reduced roles.'

Delegates at the conference backed a motion warning that the time for discussion and working groups had passed, and calling for urgent action.

GPC Wales chairwoman Dr Charlotte Jones called for the Welsh government to develop a more accurate picture of the number of full-time equivalent GPs in Wales.

‘We believe that Wales needs to link in to the Centre for Workforce Intelligence because it does not have the resource or the capacity to do it alone, and we need to do it urgently,' Dr Jones told the conference. 'We continue to lobby for that.’

Endangered species

GPs backed a motion warning that the profession was fast becoming an endangered species, after senior LMC representatives took to the stage dressed as pandas.

Dr Sara Bodey from North Wales LMC said: ‘We are seeing the collapse of the GP workforce. Practices have advertised repeatedly and had no applicants.

‘Local health boards have had to step in to manage increasing numbers of practices as GPs leave. It is increasingly likely that endangered GPs will become extinct, leaving the rest of the NHS exposed and vulnerable.’

Dr Jackie Abbey, from Gwent LMC, said the recruitment problem was far worse in rural areas of Wales.

‘GPs are critically endangered and actually extinct in some parts of Wales,’ she said. ‘I work in the Valleys and my practice has given notice to the health board because we cannot recruit.’

However, North Wales LMC representative Dr Phil White was more optimistic, saying: ‘This is the era of prudent healthcare and value for money, and when it comes to general practice, nobody does it cheaper.

‘There is no doubt that primary care, with general practice at the forefront, will survive.’

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