Posted: Tue 25th Jun 2024

Severe funding cuts threaten Welsh general practice, says BMA Cymru

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The BMA’s deputy chair of Welsh Council, Dr Phil White, has issued a stark warning about the dire state of general practice in Wales, highlighting the severe funding cuts and escalating pressures faced by GPs.

Speaking at the BMA’s annual representatives meeting in Belfast, Dr White cautioned that the collapse of general practice would have catastrophic repercussions for the already stretched NHS in Wales.

Addressing BMA members from across the UK, Dr White emphasised the union’s strength, noting record-high membership figures and recent achievements in securing significant pay increases for doctors in secondary care in Wales.

Despite this, he painted a grim picture of the challenges faced by GPs.

“As a union, we are stronger than ever, and we will do what it takes to fight for the service we all believe in,” Dr White stated. “Despite this strength and progress, the predicament facing general practitioners in Wales is truly grim. The service hangs on a precipice; funding has been slashed, and the Welsh Government continues to bury their heads in the sand.”

Dr White stressed the critical role of general practice within the NHS, warning that neglecting it could lead to the collapse of the entire healthcare system. “Restore the proportion of the NHS budget cut from General Practice, or it will collapse. If one part of the NHS crumbles, the rest will follow,” he urged.

Over the past decade, GPs have been tasked with caring for 33% more patients, while the number of full-time GPs has decreased by 24%. Nearly 100 practices have closed, exacerbating the strain on remaining services.

Dr White highlighted the risks to patient safety and the personal toll on GPs, noting that “80% of GPs fear their high workload is detrimental to patient care; morale is low, with many considering their exit.”

Efforts to manage rising costs have led many practices to reduce staff hours or halt recruitment, further impacting workloads. “It is truly shameful that GP surgeries are expected to run at a deficit, while health boards are bailed out by the Welsh Government when they overspend,” he added.

Dr White referenced the BMA Cymru Wales ‘Save our Surgeries’ campaign, which garnered nearly 22,000 signatures on a Senedd petition calling for a rescue package.

He painted a bleak picture of the current state of the NHS in Wales, with record-high waiting lists and significant shortages in investment, doctors, and beds.

“The NHS has been starved for years. Starved of investment, starved of doctors, starved of beds. The impact on patient care is plain to see,” he said. “Ambulances queue outside hospitals, patients deteriorate on waiting lists, and patients remain stuck due to a lack of investment in social care.”

Dr White reiterated the need for substantial investment and a radical overhaul of the health service, advocating for a seamless partnership between the NHS, social care, and community services to effectively meet patient needs.

“Three years ago, we called for significant investment and a radical shake-up. Today, I’m restating those calls – the public is behind us, but are the politicians listening?”

Concluding his speech, Dr White assured that doctors would continue to campaign for a better service for patients.

“Rest assured, using our collective drive and strength, we will continue to fight for an NHS with the resources to enable our profession to deliver the care that the people of Wales deserve.”

 

[Photo: depositphotos]

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