GPs: 'Winter plans may not be as robust as they could be'

GPs across Wales say they haven't been consulted by health boards over winter plans.

Speaking to ITV Wales, they say that as winter pressures increase, it means plans are not as robust as they could be. In turn, GPs say this has a negative impact on their ability to deliver services to patients.

Dr Rebecca Payne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs in Wales said: "The consistent theme that I'm getting back is that GPs are not being spoken to about winter planning, about extra resources to help them in the surgeries, about how can they cope with the additional volume that can come their way."

Dr Payne added: "I think it means the plans aren't as robust as they could be, and also we miss a trick. It's all very well having extra nurses on a ward to cope with patients...but how much better if those extra resources can be put in the community to stop the patient coming into hospital."

Responding to the concerns, the Welsh Government said: “We have asked health boards to engage closely with Primary Care to ensure they support and plan for peaks in demand over the winter. This year, plans suggest that more engagement had taken place than previously.

“We expect health boards to continue to include every aspect of Primary, Secondary and social care in their strategic planning over time.”

But Dr Dylan Parry, who is based in north Wales says he isn't aware of having any communication from his local health board asking how they're doing.

He said: "I'm not aware of having had any communication at all from anybody asking how we're doing, whether we need any extra resources be that financial or human resource."

Evan Moore, Executive Medical Director of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said:

“We follow Welsh Government guidance when formulating our winter plans and primary care has an integral part in our planning. Across Wales, GP practices work together in local clusters and each has a three year plan which includes winter preparedness and emergency planning.

“Our winter plans are therefore developed in part with our cluster lead GPs and our area medical directors who are experienced, practising GPs who have a detailed knowledge of the differing needs of primary care providers across north Wales.

“The health board is working hard to make the public aware of the different healthcare options available in north Wales including our minor injuries units, pharmacy and self-care in an effort to reduce the pressures on GPs.”