RCGP Wales has urged the Welsh Government to allocate a larger proportion of the NHS budget to general practice.
The college’s calls come after the findings of a recent RCGP workforce survey, presented in Transforming general practice: building a profession fit for the future report, found that 42% of GPs believe it is financially unsustainable to run a practice and 82% blame this on insufficient funding.
RCGP Wales put the suggestion forward on 4 December, on the day Welsh Assembly members debated the draft budget for 2019/20.
Dr Mair Hopkin and Dr Peter Saul, joint chairs of RCGP Wales, said: ‘Our recommendations for change are geared towards supporting GPs to deliver the very best care for patients.
‘It needs to be underpinned by a step change in funding, giving general practice 11% of the Welsh NHS budget, in turn giving patients the type of care they need.’
Only 7.3% of the Welsh NHS budget currently goes to general practice, according to RCGP Wales. That is the lowest percentage in the UK, as 9.2% goes to general practice in England, 8.26% in Northern Ireland and 7.35% in Scotland.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We agree that general practice needs to transform to support the delivery of A Healthier Wales [the Welsh Government’s plan for health and social care]; this includes reform of the GP contract.
‘Funding is one component of that work and we continue to invest significant sums in General Practice. In 2017/18 we invested over £543m and have invested an extra £23m this year.’
‘More practices across Wales will become unsustainable’
Gareth Thomas, business manager at Risca and North Celynen Practice in Newport said that in order to meet the growing patients demand, and following the loss of two salaried GPs, his practice was forced to apply to Aneurin Bevan University Local Health Board to close one of their branches in October.
He told Management in Practice: ‘The RCGP analysis shows that general practice is significantly underfunded in Wales compared to other home nations, which means on the ground in Wales surgeries are struggling with demand on a daily basis, which is only going to worsen as we are now into the winter season.
‘Without sufficient funding the quality of patient care is not going to be maintained or improved and it will be very difficult for patients to be seen closer to their home before they may need to go to hospital. Unless we have sufficient resources, it is just not going to be possible.
‘Unfortunately, unless 11% of the NHS Wales budget goes into general practice then more and more practices across Wales will become unsustainable and destabilized due to the lack of core funding.’