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Welshpool faces GP crisis

Created on 10/10/2016 @ 07:42
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The national recruitment crisis facing the health service across the country is hitting our area hard, according to one of Welshpool’s top doctors.

Dr Michael Lewis, a Welshpool GP and North Powys cluster lead, described the current situation faced by local GPs ahead of a crucial conference being held in Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, from Wednesday.

He said that patient access to doctors has already reduced significantly because of the shortage and that this will continue to fall further unless radical measures are taken to attract more doctors to rural Montgomeryshire.

“The national GP recruitment and retention crisis is not sparing Powys and shows no sign of improving,” said Dr Lewis, who chairs the opening day of the 27th annual Rural Primary Care Conference, organised by Montgomeryshire Medical Society (MMS).

“Recruitment campaigns have had little or no success, so together Powys Teaching Health Board and general practices are looking at new ways of providing primary care. This often depends on working with other healthcare professionals or new technology and has been vital in keeping practices open. 

“Some patients will have found that they no longer necessarily see a doctor if a nurse practitioner, physician associate or paramedic can safely deal with their problem, or that they may be asked to discuss their problem with a pharmacist, physiotherapist, optometrist or nurse first, to see if they can help instead of a doctor.

“We are also using telephone triage and telemedicine more. All this means that the face of General Practice is changing, but if we don’t do this, GP services will start to fail.”

Recently Welshpool surgery removed its sit-and-wait service with all patients now having to call ahead first. Dr Lewis says this has eased the crisis but warns it is probably not a long term solution.

“We’re very pleased that the new approaches do seem to be both helping and are safe, but more needs to be done,” he said.

The conference will discuss new ways of working, collaboration, federation and mergers of rural practices to overcome the shortage of General Practitioners with more than 150 delegates from across the UK attending.

Dr Peter Holden, a Matlock GP and special adviser to the BMA General Practitioners Committee on premises, out-of-hours care and rural matters, has been warning of the impending GP crisis in his speeches at the annual conference over many years.

At last year’s conference he warned: “The system is in danger of collapse before 2020 because by then the critical mass of GPs will have retired. Twenty-eight per cent of GPs are now over the age of 58 and 40 per cent are over 55. It’s now a question of how long people can remain standing.”

For more information or to book a place at the conference contact organiser Sue Hamer at or Tel: 01597 828805.


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