'We warned there would be a GP workforce crisis, and here it is' Dr Phil White delivers GPCW annual report to the Welsh Conference of LMCs

by BMA Cymru Wales media team

Press Release from BMA Cymru Wales

Location: Wales
Published: Saturday 5 March 2022

Addressing the Welsh conference of representatives of local medical committees, Dr Phil White, Chair of GPC Wales said:

"Our first face to face meeting for over 2 years and 15 months since our last virtual conference.

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been interesting times!

Unprecedented, catastrophic, tragic barely cover this pandemic.

Yet throughout, General Practice has maintained services, despite what certain factions of the press and the Westminster Government think.

It became law that numbers coming through our surgeries should be restricted.

There were distancing restrictions, increased levels of disinfection, use of Personal Protective Equipment, and windows wide open.

Methods of remote consultation were rolled out at speed, enabling us to cope with patient demands with minimum health risks to both patients and staff.

Many colleagues, through chronic ill health, age or ethnicity were in those high-risk groups that needed self-isolation.

Remote consultation enabled them to continue working and contributing for the benefit of patients.

Yet we are told by the press that we are shut?

We pay tribute to colleagues who have worked tirelessly in our hospitals to preserve life.

But we must remember that the vast majority of Covid cases were managed at home by our teams, using many innovative means, at both practice and cluster level.

Red hubs and home oxygen saturation meters became the norm.

How much easier all of this would have been with electronic prescription transfer?

Yet we are told by the press that we are shut?

Paediatric immunisation levels maintained at their pre-pandemic high levels.

Kick starting the roll out of Covid vaccinations in the community to vulnerable people.

A flu vaccination campaign that set a new record in 2020-21, and then exceeded that record in 2021-22.

Yet we are told by the press that we are shut?

We are pressured into undertaking more face-to-face consultations when many prefer remote consultation as it enables them to get on with their busy lives?

Over the past six months we have seen escalating consultation levels to way beyond comparable pre covid periods.

This is unsustainable.

It is leading to burnout, early retirement, change of career, all of which ramp up the pressures on dwindling GP numbers.

We have warned successive governments over many years that there would be a GP workforce crisis, and here it is.

Some efforts have been made to alleviate the problem, but it is all rather late in the day.
Be warned NHS Wales, if General Practice fails, Secondary Care will be buried in a tsunami of work, and the Covid recovery plan will be obliterated.

For recovery and sustainability, the first step must be reinforcement of the front line.
Invest in general practice, more doctors, more staff, and better premises.

Covid has shown that where there is a will there is a way to rapidly respond to crisis in both staff and buildings.

This is a crisis, and it must be addressed NOW.

GPCW calls upon Welsh LMCs to continue their support of our work in attempting to rebuild general practice.

We hope that Welsh Government looks over Offa’s Dyke and learns how NOT to work with a profession.

As this will be my last conference speech as your chair, I wish you well for the future, knowing that your decisions today will be taken forward over the coming years by a team of dedicated doctors who have your well-being at heart."

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

1. More information about LMCs and a link to stream the conference are available here https://www.bma.org.uk/what-we-do/local-medical-committees 

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