Call for 'Welsh factor' to improve retention

A 'Welsh Factor' should be introduced into GP pay to stave off a crisis in GP recruitment and retention, the Welsh conference of LMCs believe.

GPC Wales chairman Dr Andrew Dearden backed the idea, saying: 'There is no doubt that the Welsh Assembly needs to invest more money to attract GPs to Wales. We've got 10 per cent higher disease prevalence, but earn 10 per cent less on average. We also have the highest consultation rate.'

The LMCs conference passed several motions encouraging the Welsh Assembly to recognise the extra workload.

Dr Dearden said that while in recent years there had been a 15 per cent rise in GP numbers in England, the rise had been just 3 per cent in Wales.

He said that the GPC would ask the Welsh Assembly to attempt to redress this from 2007.

Dr Ferghal Armstrong of Morgannwg LMC said that the problem was also due to working conditions.

'The bottom line is that we are working harder,' he said. 'If you train on the border and this situation remains, then more and more GPs will go to England.'

Dr David Roberts, chairman of Dyfed Powys LMC, said: 'We cannot afford to have a situation where Wales appears worse off than the rest of the UK.'

But Dr Tony Calland, a GP in Monmouthshire and chairman of the BMA Welsh Council, told the conference to 'stop whingeing'.

'In England private practice is moving in,' he said. 'If we don't think strategically we've had our chips in Wales.'

Dr Sean Young of Morgannwg LMC tabled the motion calling for a 'Welsh Factor' to be specifically added to the global sum. Dr Dearden asked for the motion to be taken as a reference in negotiation for fear of creating a Wales-specific contract.

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