Top doctor Paul Myres says surgeries at breaking point as First Minister admits there are ‘challenges’ facing general practice
A top doctor has warned serious action needs to be taken to resolve a “crisis” in general practice in North Wales.
The Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) North Wales chairman Dr Paul Myres said the region was “haemorrhaging” doctors.
His warning comes in stark contrast to First Minister Carwyn Jones’s claim that there is no GP crisis in North Wales.
But Dr Myres, a Wrexham GP, and RCGP Wales chairman Dr Rebecca Payne believe primary care services are at breaking point with surgeries buckling under mounting workloads.
They said GPs were crying in appraisals as they struggled to care for complex patients in 10-minute appointments.
Dr Myres, who represents 345 GPs in North Wales, claimed many practices were “teetering on the edge” of resigning their contracts with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
He said a “tremendous number” of GPs were counting their days to retirement and the region was struggling to attract doctors to replace them.
Dr Myres said: “Eventually something happens that is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back and then we see practice closures.”
Dr Rebecca Payne said many doctors were choosing to work part time on reduced pay due to the pressures.
She said: “It’s a bit like Wylfa, you can only spend so much time in the hot zone in a nuclear plant.
“This is exactly the attitude our colleagues are taking towards general practice – until we sort that out we won’t fix it.”
Dr Myres more GPs would be going off sick but many were battling on even when they “weren’t fit” as they didn’t want patients and colleagues to suffer.
He added: “But there comes a dramatic point where something goes wrong – there might be a minor complaint but it can have huge implications.
“We all live in fear when we are pressured and having to cut corners that we are going to make a mistake and that’s not fair on patients either.
“So what happens then is there is a vicious spiral and people start to leave and no one wants to come and work in an organisation which is haemorrhaging people.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones admitted earlier this week that there were “challenges” but denied there was a crisis in general practice.
Mr Jones said: “Where people can’t even register with a GP, where large areas of Wales don’t have access to a GP, that clearly would be a crisis. There are challenges, that much is true, they are not unique to Wales.”
But North Wales GPs reacted angrily to Mr Jones’ comments, with Dr Sara Bodey and Dr Eamonn Jessup of the Local Medical Committee, saying services were on the verge of collapse.
In a joint statement they said: “The only reason there isn’t a problem with patients not being able to register with a GP at present is because existing GPs are working above and beyond to hold the situation together, often putting their own wellbeing at risk in order to so.”