Crisis in recruitment to less popular rural areas of Wales: a “head in the sand approach”. Why not train doctors with General Practice as their base, instead of a city?

Mark Smith reports 27th November 2014: Moves made to avoid a looming GP crisis in rural Wales

There is a crisis in recruitment to less popular rural areas of Wales: a de-facto “head in the sand approach” which will not be solved without emergency immigration and/or training more and differently. Why not train doctors with General Practice as their base, instead of a city? They can still be part of a university and travel irregularly to that city for those parts of training which cannot be delivered by internet, GPs and DGH staff. Dissection and anatomy could be on computer (as it is already in some medical schools) and in the local pathology department. If students “live” in an area during their formative year, then they are more likely to stay, especially if recruited as graduates. A solution to these headlines is 15 years away…

Doctors have warned of a ‘looming crisis’ in Powys due to a lack of recruitment and retention of medical professionals

NEW measures are being rolled out in parts of rural Wales to ensure a “recruitment crisis” of GPs and nurses is avoided.

Powys Teaching Health Board says it plans to work closely with GP surgeries which are finding it increasingly difficult to appoint skilled staff.

Following a workshop held earlier this year, which was attended by a cross-section of primary and secondary care delegates, ideas have been developed to bring young medical professionals to the region to plug the shortfall.

A spokesman for the health board said: “We have tried to reflect the wide range of ideas that could be considered to try and improve the recruitment and retention of the medical and practice nursing workforce. These ideas, together with other suggestions, will be looked at by the health board to support practices in creating a plan for the future.”

Suggestions were presented during a debate on rural GP recruitment on the eve of the Rural Primary Care Conference held at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown.

Delegates suggested that a “rural medicine experience day” should be held in Powys for all second year medical students from Cardiff University.

There were also calls to increase incentives for medical students from Powys to train and work as GPs in the county.

They urged placements – or taster sessions – to be brought in for medical students early in their training with Powys medical practices, including exposure to minor injury units, district nursing and BASICS trained GPs.

Related: Health board blasted for closing Aberaeron GP surgery

Julia MsWatt on June 16th 2014 had already warned: GP profession in Wales at risk of crumbling within five years, leading doctor warns 

Dr Paul Myers, chair of the Royal College of GPs in Wales, said the problem is ‘really serious’ and that the system needs greater investment

….The RCGP said that 23% of GPs in Wales are over 55, with many choosing early retirement due to the pressures and lack of resources… Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the British Medical Association’s Welsh General Practitioners Committee, warned that general practice in Wales was in “intensive care”.

Dr Jones told the annual Local Medical Committee Conference: “I stand here before you today – a damsel in distress.

“Distressed because general practice in Wales is in intensive care.

“The tubes are in, the monitor pings away and the ventilator is working flat out. Will the patient survive? Who knows?

“The workforce situation, unless urgently addressed, will further exacerbate the problems we face. If it sounds like a crisis, smells like a crisis, feels like a crisis then it is a crisis and that needs to be said.

“Welsh Government cannot simply stick its head in the sand hoping it will go away.”…


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Medical Education, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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