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Praise for GPs as appointments increase

JONES: ‘The default should not automatically be the GP’

BMA Cymru Wales has praised the efforts of GPs after new figures revealed that access to surgery appointments had improved.

According to data from the Welsh Government, 85 per cent of GP practices last year were open for daily core hours, or within an hour of them – an increase from 60 per cent in 2011.

Only three per cent of GP practices were closed for half a day on one or more weekdays, a decrease compared to four per cent in 2015, and 84 per cent of practices offered appointments at any time between 5pm and 6.30pm every weekday, compared to 79 per cent the year before.

The proportion of practices offering appointments before 8.30am on at least two weekdays increased from 16 per cent in 2015 to 19 per cent in 2016.

BMA Welsh GPs committee chair Charlotte Jones said: ‘GPC Wales is delighted to see how practices have worked hard to improve their accessibility to patients despite facing significant workload demand on a daily basis.

‘There is always room for improvement, and making sure that practices can offer flexibility to patients is key, however we must not forget that there is a lot more work needed to ensure patients are aware of the full range of professionals that can meet their needs.

‘The default should not automatically be the GP. By addressing this, we can make sure that there is capacity in the system whereby patients who need the expertise of the practice team can access timely appointment services.’

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething AM praised GPs and their teams for improving access.

He said: ‘I want to say thank you to our GPs and their teams who are working hard to extend their opening hours in Wales.

‘They are also working with other health professionals to ensure that people receive their care from the right person. This might mean seeing a pharmacist, physiotherapist or a nurse. This will allow GPs to focus their time and expertise on people with complex care needs.

‘We will continue to work collaboratively with GPs and other professions to improve access and patient experience.’

Read more from the BMA Welsh GPs committee