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About the campaign
General practice is being forced to try and cope with inadequate resources, an unsustainable workload, and a workforce under pressure across the whole of Wales, with some areas in crisis. Burnout and attrition are impacting upon the profession and exacerbating these issues.
Much of the ongoing commentary related to General Practice revolves around access. However, access is merely a symptom of the real issue, which is capacity. Current inadequate capacity in the face of unrelenting demand is a product of longstanding workload, workforce, and well-being issues, which correlate to the chronic underfunding of general medical services.
Our Save Our Surgeries campaign asks Welsh Government to commit to a rescue package for General Practice, to provide GPs and their patients with the support they need.
- Commit to funding General Practice properly, restoring the proportion of the NHS Wales budget spent in general practice to the historic level of 8.7% within three years, with an aspiration to increase to nearer 11% in the next five years.
- Invest in the workforce of General Practice to allow the implementation of a national standard for a maximum number of patients that GPs can reasonably deal with during a working day to maintain safe and high-quality service delivery.
- Produce a workforce strategy to ensure that Wales trains, recruits and retains enough GPs to move toward the OECD average number of GPs per 1000 people. This must feature a renewed focus on retaining existing GPs and tackling the problems driving them out of the profession.
- Address staff wellbeing by producing a long-term strategy to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the workforce.
Between 2013 and 2022:
- the number of patients registered at GP practices in Wales has increased by 93,317 (2.9%);
- the number of practices has decreased from 470 to 386 (18%);
- the equivalent number of full-time GPs has decreased by 456 (21.7%) from 1901 to 1445;
- there has been an increase in the average practice list size from 6780 to 8378 patients (23.5%);
- the number of patients looked after per FTE GP has risen from 1675 to 2210, which is an increase of 32 %.
GPs across Wales are experiencing an unsustainable workload
- GPs report excessive workloads, with an average workload rating of 76 out of 100, with 0 representing ‘manageable’ and 100 representing ‘constantly excessive. This pressure is causing practices to consider reducing their education and training commitments, which could negatively impact the future workforce.
Patient care may be suffering
- GPs feel their high workload is detrimental to patient care, with 80% of respondents fearing that as a consequence they are unable to provide quality and safe care to patients.
Morale is low and GPs are considering their exit
- There is a low level of morale among GPs, with 26.6% of respondents considering leaving the profession in the near future. Only half of GP partners who answered the survey said that they see themselves remaining in their current position in three years’ time.
The cost of running a practice has increased significantly
- Practice employed staff costs have increased by 10-16% within a year, but the workforce has not expanded to a similar degree. Energy costs have increased by as much as 41.2% when comparing the same quarters in 2021 and 2022. Other costs have also risen substantially since April 2022.
Practices are considering how they can stem rising costs
- Measures under consideration include stopping recruitment and reducing staff hours, adversely impacting workload.
Freedom of information requests
GPs from across Wales signed our letter to the Minister for Health and Social Services, calling for urgent action.
[i] Data from NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership GP practice analysis timeseries and StatsWales data Patients registered at a GP practice in Wales
[ii] Full time equivalent (FTE). Total count represents ‘GP providers’ which represents GP partners and salaried GPs.
[iii] This includes a practice’s Global Sum (GSum), Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) (up to 2019) and other sources of income.
We have prepared a Mythbuster document which seeks to clarify the situation and the next steps.