A North Wales Assembly Member has called on the Welsh Government to address the “growing problem” of GP shortages across the region.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd raised the issue in the Assembly Chamber during First Minister’s Questions last week.
Referencing seven surgeries in Wrexham which in October were described as potentially being “at risk” or being unsustainable in the near future, Mr Gruffydd called on the Welsh Government to offer more support to GPs in the region.
He said: “Indemnity cover is a key issue for many GPs and an increasing deterrent to those who may want to practice part-time due to the growing cost. Some GPs face having to pay indemnity insurance of more than £10,000 a year, which makes part-time work difficult.
“At a time when we need to be doing everything we can to retain existing GPs and attracting back those doctors who have retired early or taken a career break, I’m being told that this is an important part in their decision not to return to practice.
“The British Medical Association and individual doctors have sent a clear message to Assembly Members in the North and, I have no doubt, to the Labour Government in Cardiff. What do you intend to do to overcome the growing problem of GP shortages in north Wales, where many local practices are under acute pressure?”
The First Minister said the Welsh Government was “committed to increasing the number of GPs in all areas of Wales, including north Wales” and that he would write to Mr Gruffydd to respond to the matter.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Gruffydd said he was “disappointed that something the BMA has been flagging up for quite some time hadn’t registered with the First Minister”.
He continued: “Half of all government spending in Wales goes on the health service and yet it’s failing to take simple concrete steps to ensure we safeguard and protect the key frontline service – our family doctors.
“The Labour Government has been in direct charge of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board for the past two-and-a-half years so there’s no ducking or hiding from the reality facing our NHS. The shortage of doctors needs addressing and the indemnity issue is clearly having an impact.
“We need answers from the Government and today I didn’t get that answer.”