Exclusive: Struggling Welsh practices to receive 'emergency' funds and staff

Welsh GP practices struggling to stay open will be able to appeal for financial and staffing help from their local health boards this summer.

Dr David Bailey: Support for struggling practices (Photo: Ray Farley)
Dr David Bailey: Support for struggling practices (Photo: Ray Farley)

Practices can apply for support including back-office staff, help with federating, and financial assistance, as part of the sustainability programme agreed in the 2015/16 contract.

BMA Wales has instructed local health boards (LHBs) to set up ways to identify the hardest-hit practices by the end of June.

‘It’s about age demographics, big mortgages, vacancies, and issues around unavoidable smallness,’ GPC Wales deputy chairman Dr David Bailey told GPonline.

‘It’s expected that it’ll be particularly an issue in more rural areas, but we recognise there may be some deprived urban areas with certain demographics that have the same problems,’ he said.

Support package

The amount of financial support available is to be decided by individual LHBs, and should cover ‘short-term, intermediate management and workload support for practices’.

‘We are realistically not expecting that to be huge amounts of money,’ Dr Bailey said.

‘There has been money sent out to LHBs from government to provide innovative solutions for medical problems that they might conceivably want to use in this way.

‘If a practice is about to fall over, it’s a bit of an emergency, so they might use some of that money.’

Management help

LHBs could provide management staff or pharmacists to help GPs cope with workload, Dr Bailey said.

‘The other alternative is that they use people, use LHB staff to support back office staff, and sometimes that can work just as well.

‘Sometimes when you’re running on the hamster wheel just to stay still, you haven’t got the time to take a step back and find out what management solutions might actually help you run the practice more easily,’ he said.

Practices should be able to apply from July before being assessed by an LHB panel and an LMC representative.

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