Welsh Patients 'Becoming More Ill' Due To GP Waits

Long Waits To See GPs May Be Making Welsh Patients Even More Ill

15.09.2014

Serious GP resourcing issues in Wales could be placing the health and safety of patients in the country at risk, as they may be becoming more ill due to lengthy waits to see a doctor.

This is the finding of a new report carried out by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in Wales, which found that GP practices were facing significant struggles due to rising workloads, a lack of doctors and an increase in patients.

The report estimates that around 650,000 people living in Wales were faced with difficulties when trying to get an appointment with their family doctor last year, but the RCGP predicts this could rise to 800,000 by 2017.

RCGP Wales chairman Paul Myres said this is partly due to life expectancies increasing and more older people requiring care, while still trying to meet the needs of other patients.

In addition, as a significant number of GPs are reaching retirement age, there are concerns about who will fill their roles, as there may not be enough available replacements with adequate experience to treat local people.

My Myres explained that in North Wales, 23 per cent of GPs are aged 55 and over, with the figure in Cwm Taf standing at 31 per cent.

Many GPs are opting to retire early due to the pressures of the role caused by the lack of resources, while some are also choosing to work abroad, leaving the UK somewhat short of experts in the field.

He commented: "The profession has been brought to its knees, both by a chronic slump in investment and the fact that there are now simply not enough family doctors to go around.

"If the government really wants to give general practice the tools to provide high-quality care, they must increase funding for the sector to 11 per cent of the NHS budget by 2017."

Mr Myres added that radical steps were also needed to help to recruit more doctors and nurses for practices throughout the UK over the coming years.

If you've experienced negligent treatment due to rushed or over-worked GPs you might be entitled to compensation. Visit our GP Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The findings of this report are very troubling, as they indicate some patients are not receiving the quality of care they need due to staffing and resourcing issues. Patient care should always be a top priority for all medical professionals within the NHS, which means ensuring there are enough trained staff to deal with patients when they require treatment.

“It is vital that recruitment efforts are increased and improved to attract more people to GP positions, as a failure to do so will lead to standards slipping and patients being put at risk. We have seen first-hand the danger patients are placed in when staff are overstretched, as this is when mistakes can happen and patients’ conditions worsen.

“We hope that more can be done to recruit general practitioners in Wales and patients are able to access care and treatment they require in their local area.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner