Welsh GPs demand cap on practice workload

GP leaders in Wales have demanded a cap on practice workload, warning that many practices are struggling to cope with soaring demand as the recruitment crisis deepens.

GPC Wales chairwoman Dr Charlotte Jones (Photo: Ray Farley)
GPC Wales chairwoman Dr Charlotte Jones (Photo: Ray Farley)

LMCs at the 2016 Welsh LMCs conference backed a call for the GPC to 'define and agree with government a manageable safe workload', and for measures to be drawn up to stop GPs taking on work above this level.

GPs also backed a motion calling for general practice to be officially recognised as a shortage specialty, to make it easier to recruit doctors from outside the EU.

GPC Wales chairwoman Dr Charlotte Jones told the conference that GP practices in Wales were under 'enormous strain'.

GP workload

'The pressures faced day to day in the surgery are overwhelming,' she said. 'I repeatedly hear reports of GPs struggling to cope. I consider myself a resilient woman who can juggle a number of roles and cope with what life throws at me but am exhausted by the challenge of just getting through the day. General practice has become the dumping ground for all sorts of problems and many of them not even medical.'

She hit out at recent comments from Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones denying general practice was in crisis. 'Patients understand the challenges we face and it is wrong that some in goverment and health boards deliberately mislead the public about the reality of the dire situation in some parts of Wales, which without swift intervention could rapidly turn into a disastrous collapse of services resulting in increased waits for patients and reduced services available to them close to their home.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr David Bailey told GPonline that the mood among Welsh GPs was less militant than among their counterparts in England, in part because practices had not been subjected to CQC inspections or as much 'micromanagement' by government.

GP recruitment

But he warned: '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.

Dr Jones set out measures in her conference speech aimed at reducing practice workload, including:

  • Patients to be educated about self-care.
  • Reductions in bureaucracy.
  • A 'cluster-based' overspill service for practices to use when full.
  • Measures to stop work being dumped on practices from hospital.
  • Removing GPs from prescribing items such as gluten-free products.

Dr Bailey said overspill services to take on work practices could not handle were a possibility, and that measures such as pooling services, greater use of pharmacists and nurses, and triage systems should all be considered.

LMCs voted against a move to drop the QOF in Wales, and demanded an immediate uplift in practice funding.

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