A senior doctor has warned how “problems in the GP service” are causing increased frustration to the public. Robin Davies, a consultant paediatrician, working from a GP practice premises in Gwynedd said healthcare staff find it hard to reach GPs, “let alone the public”.
“It is now very difficult to access the (GP) service,” Mr Davies, who works out of a surgery in Tregarth, said in a letter to the Guardian newspaper. His comments come as incidents of violence at health centres and GP surgeries have almost doubled in five years, according to reports.
Mr Davies warned: “Violence towards GPs and their staff is deplorable, and it is right to castigate the government for lack of attention and investment in the service. However, while nothing excuses violence, there are other problems in the GP service that are causing increased frustration to the public.”
Read more:New GP contract in Wales vows to end ‘morning scramble’ to book an appointment
He said he works as a secondary care consultant paediatrician, sharing a building with two general medical practices. “These are still adopting full Covid precautions despite Welsh government advice that this is no longer necessary,” he added.
“The place is nearly empty from 9.30am to 6pm. This may well be because much of the clinical work is being done over the telephone. However, many practices have not adapted to this new situation of an arm’s-length practice with increased use of phones.
“I often wish to consult GP colleagues about patients who have shared care between us. However, when I try to phone practices, I receive an automated reply and am offered numbers to press that vary with my needs. This week, I patiently followed the directions, seeking blood test results on a patient, only to be informed that I was number 29 in a queue. Being with the patient, it was impossible to wait, and I proceeded as best I could without the information.” Get the latest news from across Wales sent straight to your inbox by signing up to our newsletters.
Mr Davies said GP surgeries need to adapt their communications systems to deal with the increase in clinical practice carried out by phone and patients having to communicate more by that route. They also need “special hotlines to communicate with colleagues”, he said.
Late last year the Welsh Government announced changes to the GP contract in a bid to improve access to appointments.
The revised contract for 2021-22, which is backed by £12m of extra investment, vows to end the “morning scramble” to book an appointment – making it clear that releasing them daily at 8am is no longer acceptable.
Instead the new GP access commitment aims to ensure people are triaged appropriately and if an appointment is needed people receive one which is right for their clinical needs. Where appropriate people may be signposted to another service or healthcare professional who can help or support them.
The new General Medical Services (GMS) contract deal will also include a 3% uplift to pay for GPs and practice staff and extra funding to increase capacity and staffing to help to respond to winter pressures.
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