Tory leader stands with GPs in the face of ‘crisis for the profession’

Paul Davies AM has backed doctors and practices across Wales by challenging the First Minister over new GP contract arrangements.

The Labour-led government yesterday announced the changes which would see GP partners at the head of Welsh practices forced to pay into an indemnity scheme to cover any clinical negligence claims, contrary to how GPs work in England.

The threat of GPs moving away from Wales, a further strain on top of an already stretched workforce, prompted Mr Davies to quiz Mark Drakeford AM in the Welsh Parliament chamber this afternoon.

The Scheme for General Medical Practice Indemnity was met upon its launch by a letter from General Practitioners Committee chairwomen Charlotte Jones. She expressed her disappointment and, before rejecting the deal, she addressed the GPs of Wales by saying the scheme: “fell well short of a deal that we could look you in the eye and say was good for the profession”.

Unlike the scheme in England, the Welsh Government plan would see GP partners unfairly paying towards the protection fund for all staff with their practice money.

Hospital doctors and locum doctors are also exempt from financial contribution, leaving Welsh GPs uniquely at a loss and causing practices to be vulnerable to seeking a better deal over the English border.

Mr Davies also warned the First Minister today of falling numbers of local medical professionals across Wales, with recent figures recording a drop in nursing and health visiting staff as well as a lack of midwives, a matter raised before by the Tory leader.

Speaking outside the chamber, Paul Davies AM said:

“Despite recent numbers showing that nearly half (42%) of people had difficulty seeing their GP last year, we still saw 15 practices close across Wales in the same period.

“And now on top of this worrying sign, the Welsh Government has put the nail in the coffin for local GP services, whose doctors are already thought to earn 10% less than in England.

“The Labour-led government has been warned by the British Medical Association and others on numerous occasions, and still they went into these indemnity negotiations half-heartedly, and as a result, came away with a deal which only worsens what medical professionals are calling a ‘crisis’ in the profession.

“The Health Minister himself admitted in a recent statement that satisfaction with GP services was falling, but we’re yet to hear assurance of how the Welsh Government intend to address this latest injustice.”