Welsh general practice under pressure as GP and practice numbers drop

The number of GP practices in Wales fell by almost 2% last year, official data reveal, while GP numbers also fell slightly.

Figures published by the Welsh Government from data extracted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre come just weeks after the annual conference of LMCs demanded a cap on workload as practices struggle with rising demand and a workforce crisis.

The total number of GPs, excluding registrars, retainers and locums, was 1,997 at the end of September 2015, 9 fewer (0.4%) than the previous year, but up by 148 on 2005.

The annual report on GP workforce and patient numbers revealed that the number of practices in Wales fell by 1.7% from 2014 to 2015, to 454.

The fall maintains a trend over the past decade that has seen the number of GP partnerships drop 8.7% between 2005 and 2015GP partnerships in 2005, compared with 454 in 2015.

GP workforce

Registered patients per partnership rose from 6,140 in 2005 to 7,021 in 2015, up 14.3% over the decade. Since 2005 the number of registered patients per GP has fallen by 54 (3.3%) to 1,596.

The report also showed a continuation of the trend towards a predominantly female workforce, 50.4% of GPs female in 2015, an increase of 56.9% since 2005.

The numbers of GPs aged over 55 remained steady over 5 years, the report found, with around 23% in 2015.

Following last month’s Welsh LMCs conference deputy chairman of GPC Wales Dr David Bailey told GPonline: 'There is a real problem in parts of Wales where it is almost impossible to recruit now, and in those areas there are real signs of despondency.'

Motions demanding a cap on workload reflected the impossible situation GPs in understaffed and overworked practices found themselves in, Dr Bailey said.

Photo: iStock

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