General practitioner Wales

Last updated:

£20m to help ease winter pressures

Footprint

A £20m package has been announced to help the NHS deal with this year’s winter pressures in Wales.

Unlike funding in previous years by the Welsh Government, primary care is set to get a slice at £4m.

The money will go to extending GP access into evenings and weekends, as well as bank holidays in some areas.

It will also be spent helping older people who do not need to be in hospital to stay in their homes.

BMA Welsh council chair David Bailey welcomed the funding – particularly the money going into primary care.

He said: ‘There is still going to be pressure this year and there is still a lot to be done. The funding is certainly better than last year when it was just targeted at hospitals.’

 

'Perfect storm'

A Welsh Government report into how the NHS in Wales coped last year found that it was met with a ‘perfect storm of pressures’.

The report says: ‘A challenging influenza season, changing patterns of demand that were more complex to predict and manage and extreme weather conditions added to ongoing all year round pressures on systems. This combined to create a perfect storm of pressures.

‘The majority of people accessing health and social care services received timely and safe care, and a high proportion of those who responded to ''patient satisfaction'' surveys were satisfied with the service they received.

‘This is testament to the thousands of committed staff working in often difficult circumstances, often going above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of them.

 

Ageing population

‘Many people waited longer than they would have expected for an ambulance response, were unable to access a GP appointment or were not admitted to a hospital bed in a timely fashion as a result of additional pressures. It should not be accepted that each winter will be worse than the one before.’

Commenting on the report, Dr Bailey said the problem of winter pressures was complex, especially as Wales had an ageing demographic.

He said: ‘From providing out-of-hours care to trying to sort the ambulances out and trying to make sure social services have the capacity to receive people back into the community.

‘While the NHS is having extra money, social services budgets are still feeling the pinch.’

Read more from Richard Gurner and follow on Twitter.