GP Provision Remains Top of the Agenda

A local AM has welcomed news that all GP training places in Wales have been filled but reiterated that recruiting and retaining GPs remains a key issue in Wrexham.

Wrexham’s Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, recently met with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Chief Executive, Gary Doherty and Chairman, Dr Peter Higson to discuss GP provision in the area.  It follows on from a meeting with the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething AM.

The meetings coincide with the news a Welsh Government campaign has exceeded its GP training places objective.

Financial incentives and marketing campaigns have complimented work already being undertaken by health boards, targeting areas such as North East Wales that have traditionally found it difficult to recruit.

Following the conclusion of all three rounds of recruitment in 2017, the Wales Deanery, which delivers medical education for Wales, has now confirmed the appointment of 144 GP training places, surpassing the 136 places available.  This compares to 121 places that were filled in 2016 – an increase of 19%.

Lesley Griffiths AM said: “Many residents will be aware of the issues with GP retention in Wrexham, Wales and across the UK.”

“Unfortunately there are no easy answers or quick fixes.  As I have previously highlighted, GPs are self-employed, independent contractors so in this respect, no health board or government can enforce or control general practitioners.”

“The Welsh Government recognises the issues facing GP provision, with the innovative campaigns and incentives starting to have a positive impact, encouraging junior doctors to train and remain in Wales.  Judging by the latest figures, North East Wales has benefited but there is clearly still work to be done locally.  I am in regular contact with the Health Board and Welsh Government, and will continue to work with the relevant organisations to try and ensure local residents receive the best possible services.”

Launching in October 2016, the international and UK-wide Welsh Government recruitment campaign promoted Wales as an excellent place for doctors – including GPs – to train, work and live.

The campaign included two financial incentives schemes: a targeted scheme offering GP trainees a total of £20,000, providing they remain in the area in which they took a placement for at least one year after completing their training.  A second incentive offered a one-off payment for all GP trainees to cover the cost of sitting their final examinations.

Following the overall success of the schemes in filling all the GP training places for Wales in 2017, the Welsh Government has extended the universal and targeted incentive schemes for a further year, and expects the campaign to go from strength to strength.