General practitioner Wales

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Support for GP surgeries at risk of closure

GP practices at risk of imminent closure can access a new package of support, including additional funding and temporary staff.

Practices in fear of shutting in 12 months can apply for the assistance as part of an agreement between BMA Cymru Wales, the Welsh Government and health boards.

BMA Wales GPs committee chair Charlotte Jones said she was delighted with the framework to assess such practices, which is part of a sustainability programme in the 2015/17 GP contract.

'It is vital that access to and the continuity of services are secured for patients across Wales, and it is important to recognise that rural and deprived urban communities face unique challenges,’ she said.

'The new framework will ensure that practices that are vulnerable to the risk of closure will get proper support in a timely manner and we hope that it will provide reassurance to such practices moving forward.'

 

Workload relief

The Welsh Government will be writing to practices with more details on how to access help, which includes extra funding and secondment of staff to at-risk practices to help relieve workload pressure.

Any practice that considers itself vulnerable to risk of closure within 12 months or has to cut services to patients will be advised to contact their respective health boards with a view to making an application under the new assessment framework.

A local assessment panel will then aim to make a decision in six weeks on whether a practice can be helped.

Where a practice is deemed ineligible, the panel will advise practices on other areas of help, such as collaborative working with other GP practices and efficient working methods.

The current two-year GP contract — a departure from previous single-year deals — saw the return of 101 points to core funding from the quality and outcomes framework.

Its stated aim is to reduce the amount of bureaucracy adding to GPs heavy workload.