A recent survey of RCGP Wales members has revealed that GPs are concerned that pressures on the health service will negatively affect their ability to deliver patient care this winter.
84% of GPs surveyed expressed concern that increased workload will negatively affect their ability to deliver patient care this winter.
This figure is unsurprising given that 96% of GPs said their workload increased in winter months, with 94% reporting that increasing numbers of patients are seeing their GP every winter.
RCGP Wales has said the findings demonstrate “a pressing need to boost the GP workforce”, re-iterating calls for an increase in the number of GP training places in Wales. Numbers of training places in Wales are significantly behind the rest of the UK.
The College has also called for patients to have more information about the variety of options available to them in primary care. The RCGP Wales survey showed that only 51% of GPs felt there is enough information available to patients about what they should do if they feel unwell during the winter.
On Tuesday afternoon the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services will be making a statement on ‘Winter Delivery Planning’ in the Welsh Assembly.
Dr Peter Saul, Joint Chair of Royal College of General Practitioners Wales, said:
“We already have a stretched GP workforce, having to work incredibly hard to try and meet patient demand through the year, so it is to be expected that GPs are concerned about what the winter months will mean for patient care.
“These results are a stark reminder of the pressing need to boost the GP workforce. The number of GP training places per patient is well below the rest of the United Kingdom, meaning there aren’t enough GPs coming into the workforce. The Welsh NHS needs to build a strong and resilient NHS workforce, including through the recruitment of GPs and other primary care professionals.
“This is not going to happen in time for this winter. It will likely be a trying time, both for those working in the NHS and patients trying to access services. We would strongly encourage patients to consider the variety of options available to them in primary care, making appropriate use of valuable NHS resources.
“The recent ‘Choose Well’ relaunch highlighted the effective role pharmacists can play in primary care. There are a number of other primary care healthcare professionals who can help patients and these all should be considered. NHS Direct Wales can be a valuable source of information, and we also need to see common sense approaches like at-risk groups receiving their flu vaccine.”