Julia McWatt for Wales on lone (Western Mail) reports 27th March 2014: Fresh concerns raised about GP recruitment after figures showed more than 40% rise in number of GPs over age of 55 in past decade
Fresh concerns have been raised on recruitment and retention of GPs in Wales after latest figures revealed more than a 40% increase in the number of practitioners over the age of 55 in the last decade.
The statistics published by the Welsh Government show the number of GPs in Wales aged 55 or over has risen from 330 to 469 – an increase of 42.1% – between 2003 and 2013.
And while the figures also showed an increase in the number of practitioners below 45-years-old, the rate was significantly slower with numbers increasing by just 1.2% throughout the 10-year period.
The number of GP practitioners in Wales stood at 2,026 as of the end of September 2013 – a rise of 1.5% on the previous year and an increase of 11.2% since 2003.
Meanwhile, the percentage of GPs who are female has increased over the last decade. In 2003, female GPs accounted for 31.7% of the total, while in 2013 they accounted for 46.6%.
The figures have prompted fresh concerns about the problem of the ageing workforce and recruiting and retaining GPs in Wales.
Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said urgent action was needed to address the issue.
She said: “Although the overall numbers of GPs have gone up, that does not mean they are all working full-time. We know that GPs, irrespective of age or sex, are deciding to work less than full-time hours.
“We are particularly concerned about the age profile and the number of GPs over the age of 55, and the recruitment and retention of new GPs.
“We are also concerned about the impact of the pension changes on this group of GPs and some of these changes mean that many GPs feel it is not in their interests to continue working. And if we look at where these older GPs tend to be, they are in areas where we already have concerns.
“We have highlighted these issues to the Welsh Government, not just about the recruitment and training, but importantly about the retaining of GPs. This is crucial with the focus on GPs on health service reorganisation and also with the Health Minister’s development of prudent healthcare.
“We want the Welsh Government to urgently look at these figures and what they mean for the workforce.”
Dr Jones said that if action was not taken, there was a risk that some practices in Wales may close…..