Centralised GPs in a smaller number of surgeries are not an option in rural Wales, a Plaid Cymru AM has told the Welsh Assembly.
In a debate on the NHS Workforce in Wales, Rhun ap Iorwerth (Plaid Cymru, Ynys Môn) said: “Offering services in fewer and fewer centres… is obviously not an option in the context of GP surgeries. We cannot solve the problem of a shortage of GPs in rural areas or peripheral areas by centralising services… with the need for people to travel long distances to them. Very simply, we need to train more and we need to recruit more GPs.”
According to Kirsty Williams (Welsh Liberal Democrat for Brecon and Radnorshire) GPs have had to “step in and fill the breach”, because of a shortfall in the specialist workforce. She said: “The beds at Bronllys Hospital are being kept open because of the work of local GPs in managing patients in them.”
Elin Jones (Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion) told the debate: “23% of GPs are over 55 years old in Wales; in Dwyfor, it’s 47%, in Caerphilly, it’s 31%, in north Rhondda, it’s 50%, and, in south Rhondda, it’s 41%. Over a 10-year period, these areas and practices are going to need an above-average stream of new doctors.”
AMs told Welsh ministers that the NHS must move away from “a laissez-faire approach” to the training and recruitment of doctors, and prepare a 10-year national workforce plan. AMs highlighted a range of solutions to the GP workforce crisis, including overseas recruitment, incentivised postgraduate training and golden hellos.