A LEADING doctor has warned that too many GPs are retiring or emigrating and not enough new recruits are willing to work in North Wales.
Dr Eamonn Jessup, former senior partner of Pendyffryn Medical Group in Prestatyn and chairman the North Wales local medical committee, wrote an open letter to Assembly Members about “the escalating crisis developing in primary care in North Wales.”
In the letter, the GP states that surgeries are being forced to get health boards to step in to run their practices.
In April 2016, Pendyffryn Medical Group, on Ffordd Pendyffryn and Seabank Surgery in Prestatyn, terminated their contracts with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
As a result, BCUHB launched a new primary care service for the town – Healthy Prestatyn Iach.
The same approach was adopted when Rhuddlan surgery went on to terminate its contract with the health board. Dr Jessup said: “We have moved from the position that it was a minority of areas in North Wales that were at risk of losing their GP to the majority of areas now being at risk.
“New models of care are being trialled, but a lack of nurse practitioners and other allied health professionals as well as GPs is threatening the success of these schemes.
“At the heart of all this is a dwindling ability to retain general practitioners in North Wales, many of whom are leaving the profession prematurely by reason of retirement, resignation or emigration.
“We are also unable to recruit GPs to North Wales.”
Speaking to the Journal about the letter to AMs, the GP –who was helping at a managed practice in Ruabon, Wrexham, last week – said: “There are significant concerns for North Denbighshire although I should say North Wales is the worst area affected in Wales, not Denbighshire itself.
“The age profile of the doctors around Prestatyn and Rhyl is of significant concern.
“The main point of the letter was to ask all our politicians to work together to try and wake up the Welsh Government to the fact we are disproportionately affected.
”I don’t want local health boards or politicians getting defensive. I’m just keen they recognise how bad it is, that we are the worst affected area in Wales and in fact – I would say one of the worst affected areas in the UK.
“Let’s work constructively to see what can be done and quickly.”
A spokesman from BCUHB admitted that like many areas in the UK, the health board was facing “similar challenges” in terms of responding to the changing nature of general practice and the way it is being delivered.
The spokesman said: “We continue to work constructively with all of our partnership organisations, including the local medical committee (LMC), to deliver the best possible care for patients across North Wales.
“We’ve seen considerable success in using new models of working, and will continue to work hard to find solutions to the challenges identified.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Government added: “As a result of the agreed changes to the GP contract for 2017-18, investment in general medical service will increase by around £27 million, which provides a strong platform for GPs to continue to provide high-quality, sustainable healthcare.
“Through our successful This is Wales: Train, Work, Live campaign, designed to market Wales and NHS Wales as an attractive place to work, we are successfully recruiting more GPs to work in Wales.”