Data obtained by the Welsh Conservatives has found that 27 GP surgeries across Wales are under local health board (LHB) management, with 14 of these concentrated in the North.
North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (UHB) has been in Special Measures – and so under direct Welsh Government control – for over three and a half years.
Meanwhile, West Wales’ Hywel Dda University Health Board had five practices under health board management, Gwent’s Aneurin Bevan UHB four, and the Central Valleys’ Cwm Taf UHB two.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB and Powys Teaching Health Board both had one apiece while Cardiff & Vale UHB had none.
Seven of the 27 health boards entered LHB management last year, nine in 2017, and five in 2015 and 2016, respectively. One surgery in North Wales has been under LHB authority since 2014.
According to the latest figures (2017), there were 432 GP practices in Wales, nine fewer than the previous year. The number of GP practitioners was 1,926, 83 (4.1%) fewer than in 2016.
GP surgeries that have come into health board management and subsequently returned to independent contractor status were excluded from the analysis provided by the Welsh Government.
Over 40,000 patients in Wales have had to find new GPs in the last five years due to surgery closures and figures published last autumn showed Welsh patients’ satisfaction with their GP and the convenience of their services had fallen.
The data was requested by Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Health Angela Burns AM, who said:
“These figures are startling: although it isn’t entirely unexpected to see the occasional practice taken into health board control, that such a large amount can be concentrated in one area is deeply troubling.
“It may be an alternative to preventing GP practices from closing, but this can only be a temporary reprieve. If it isn’t, it simply demonstrates that the Welsh Labour Government are incapable of maintaining health services at the basic expected level.
“The way to solve this is to adopt our very clear, robust patient-centred strategies, such as increasing funding for primary care and the number of community care workers.
“These numbers show just how far the Welsh Labour Government have to go to address the deeply ingrained problems they’ve introduced to North Wales’ public services.”