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Sam Rowlands MS concerned over the number of GP surgeries lost in the last 10 years in Wales

SAM ROWLANDS, Member of the Welsh Parliament for North Wales, has vowed to keep fighting to save GP surgeries in Wales.

Mr Rowlands, Shadow Minister for Health was speaking during a Welsh Conservative debate: GP practices and funding.

He said: “There are 99 fewer GP practices in Wales today than there were in 2012, and it seems to me that the Welsh Government is doing precious little to stop that number moving to 100.

“This is a downward trend that’s followed declining levels of funding from the Labour Welsh Government. Currently, less than 8% of NHS Wales funding goes towards general practice, which is below 2005 and 2006 levels. This is at a time when Welsh Government are refusing to spend the full amount of money from the UK Government on our NHS, and we really are seeing the ill effects of that.

“That reduction of GP surgeries hits our communities hard. We’ve gone from a system of traditional family doctors who know people, their relatives and ailments, to a scenario where we have GP deserts, with poor provision putting even more strain on the GP surgeries that do remain.

“It’s clear that many of our residents across Wales are deeply dissatisfied with the way the Welsh Government are running the NHS and our GP practices here in Wales. It’s also general practitioners who are less than satisfied with their working conditions. Data from the Royal College of General Practitioners found that 67% of GPs do not have the time to take a rest break, which they would need every day, and that 70% work more than the contracted hours most days. It’s no wonder we have a recruitment and retention crisis for our GPs here in Wales.

“The BMA’s ‘Save our Surgeries’ campaign aims to tackle these problems and make GP services sustainable well into the future. Our motion seeks to adopt these campaign calls, which include 11% of NHS Wales’s funding to be spent on general practice, and produce a workforce strategy to ensure that Wales trains, recruits and retains enough GPs to move towards the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development EU average number of GPs per 1,000 people.

Another one of the BMA’s key points, is about capacity, which they describe as inadequate, because reducing the number of practices, reduces capacity, and means that staff in those remaining practices are facing a job that they will be less likely to remain in on a long-term basis, contributing towards 25 per cent of GPs saying they’ll no longer be in the job in five years’ time.”

Labour rejected the motion put forward by the Welsh Conservatives calling for improved GP access.

Mr Rowlands added: “I was very disappointed to see Labour stand by as 99 GP practices close in Wales in just over a decade.

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“Labour Senedd Members have rejected our calls to improve GP access by adopting BMA Cymru Wales’ key campaign calls and ensuring that every penny arising from the UK Government’s health spending is made available for our Welsh NHS.

“The Welsh Conservatives will not give up and will keep fighting to save our GP surgeries.”