BMA Wales Raises Safety Fears Over GPs Hours

The British Medical Association In Wales Has Raised Safety Fears Over GPs' Hours

12.11.2013

 

The British Medical Association's (BMA) Welsh arm has highlighted its safety fears over the long hours many GPs are facing every day.

Consultants across Wales are being exposed to excess workloads and long waiting hours - something that could be causing poorer patient safety and increasing misconduct, according to the BMA.

Officials at the organisation argue that with many GPs forced to work through the night and then attend clinics in the daytime, the situation is approaching breaking point, WalesOnline reports.

Dr Sharon Blackford, chair of the BMA's Welsh consultants committee, told the publication: "We are seeing these concerns all over Wales. There's this great myth that consultants are not in the hospital in evenings and weekend, when actually many, especially in A&E, are stretched to the limit.

"Some consultants are at risk of burning out and we sometimes carry on when perhaps we shouldn't, but there's that feeling that you have to keep going for the sake of patients."

The Welsh government is currently reducing expenditure on the nation's health service, something that critics argue is compromising quality of care for older people and the vulnerable.

However, a spokesperson for the Welsh government rejected the BMA's concerns and said that, contrary to popular belief, some 97 per cent of all consultant posts are currently occupied, showing that patients are not being put at risk.

The representative also added that a recent Welsh Audit Office report found that a consultant's average working week has reduced by over four hours since 2004, with only one in six working more than the recommended limit of 46.5 hours per week.

But with more cuts planned by the Labour-led Welsh government, it may be the case that more doctors face longer working weeks, critics argue, and this could potentially lead to a reduction in the quality of care available to Wales' ageing population.

However, even with austerity policies in place, Health and Social Care still makes up almost half of the nation's spending, with £6.38 billion set aside for this area in 2014-15.



Expert Opinion
It is very worrying to hear that already over-stretched GP’s in Wales may be under even more pressure with the threat of further austerity cuts.

"We know that working excessive hours adds to the potential for mistakes to be made and ultimately patient care will suffer. In the long run this will just add to the burden on the NHS in Wales since things not picked up in a primary care setting have the potential to increase the burden on hospitals who have to pick up the aftermath".
Lisa Jordan, Partner