LMCs demand ‘Welsh factor’ DES

GPs are being ‘driven away’ from Wales because poor recruitment and low pay compared to other UK countries have left workloads spiralling, LMCs say.

GPs in Wales have condemned ministers’ failure to recognise higher rates of disease and practice workload in the principality, and called for extra pay through a directed enhanced service (DES).

GPs have demanded a ‘Welsh factor’ to recognise extra demands on practices since quality framework data showed prevalence in Wales is the highest in the UK in six chronic disease domains.

After the 2004/5 financial year, the first year of the quality framework, GP revealed that practices in Wales work up to 20 per cent harder for an estimated 10 per cent less pay (GP, 20 May 2005).

GPC chairman Dr Andrew Dearden told the 2007 conference of Welsh LMCs in Ewloe, north Wales: ‘GPs and their staff are working harder and seeing more patients than ever before.’

Government data showed that consultations with GPs in Wales soared by almost 500,000 — a 20 per cent increase — between 2004/5 and 2005/6, and that the GP workforce grew by just six.

GP leaders at the 2007 conference of Welsh LMCs unanimously backed a motion berating the Welsh Assembly government for failing to address high disease prevalence, and another condemning its recruitment and retention policies.

Morgannwg LMC secretary Dr Ian Millington said: ‘The way the formula works, disease prevalence in Wales is higher but the payment does not reflect that.’

The government was simply ignoring the problem, Dr Millington said.

Deputy chairman of GPC Wales Dr David Bailey said average Welsh practices, with a list size of 6,000, had about 250 more patients on disease registers than comparable English practices.

But he said the Welsh govern-ment had ‘shamefully failed to support GPs’ by refusing to recognise this argument in the context of GP pay.

GPC Wales chairman Dr Andrew Dearden said underfunding of Welsh practices was ‘an unfortunate result of having country-specific prevalence measures, rather than a UK one’.

Practices in Wales were hit harder than their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the decision to weight prevalence separately in each UK country, primarily because of their relatively high list sizes.

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