General practitioner Wales

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Expert GPs needed to tackle drink and drugs crisis

'Overwhelmed' drug and alcohol services in Wales need more GPs to specialise in the field, an inquiry has concluded.

A young man taking drugs with bottles 

The Welsh Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee report, Alcohol and Substance Misuse, makes 21 recommendations for the Welsh Government to consider in its next substance misuse delivery plan.

These include calls to review how GPs and GP trainees are trained to identify clear pathways for referring patients and improving diagnosis.

The committee's findings echo the views of BMA Cymru Wales, whose written evidence to the inquiry says: ‘Greater resources should be devoted to health education around the dangers of both alcohol and substance abuse.'


Tougher rules needed

The BMA evidence also calls for:

  • Tougher licencing regulations
  • An end to alcohol promotions
  • A cut in the drink drive limit to 50mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood
  • Complete ban on alcohol advertising.

The committee suggests all GP clusters should have access to family doctors with expertise to treat alcohol and substance misuse.


Strategic leadership

A call for more strategic leadership by the Welsh Government was among the committee's recommendations, said chair David Rees.

He said the next delivery plan should specifically address awareness of the harms alcohol and substance misuse could cause, and the needs of particular groups, such as older people, homeless people and people on release from prison.

He added: We are also recommending that action is taken to improve training for GPs to remove some of the barriers to accessing services that we heard about during the inquiry.'

A new law which would see minimum alcohol pricing introduced in Wales was unveiled last month in the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill.

The Welsh Government has said almost 50 lives a year could be saved if a 50p per unit price was introduced.

Read the BMA response

Read the committee's findings