North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called for an urgent statement from the Welsh Government on the GP "crisis" facing North Wales.
A leading doctor warned this week that more than half of GP surgeries in North Wales are at risk of closing in the next 12 months.
Speaking in this week’s Business Statement, Mr Isherwood said: “Can I again raise the very important, critical matter, where the Vice-Chair of the North Wales Local Medical Committee has today raised a crisis that must be dealt with urgently, if thousands and thousands of people across North Wales are not to suffer?
“North Wales Members know already, although we’re sworn to confidentiality, that further closures are in the pipeline that will already affect thousands more patients.
"We know that the Chair of the North Wales Local Medical Committee said that both GPs and out-of-hours surgeries are facing ever-growing pressure and that the closure of community hospitals and cuts to minor injuries clinics are responsible for the current crisis facing GPs and accident and emergency departments in North Wales.
“I’ve been writing to the Minister about this after meeting GPs in North Wales for nearly two years, highlighting their concerns about the inability to recruit, the British Medical Association description of the impending crisis in North Wales and, of course, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ campaign highlighting this and its causes, including the shortage of beds in community hospitals.
"Given the imminent crisis that we’ve been warned about for years and years, what is your Government going to do about it? Please can we have an urgent statement?”
The Minister for Finance and Welsh Government Business, Jane Hutt, replied: “We have just announced a new package of support for GP practices and agreed a new two-year contract with GPs. I do believe also, in terms of our work, which is very important, with the General Practitioners Committee Wales and health boards, to encourage ways in which we can ensure that access to primary care has improved, that that is making a difference.”
Mr Isherwood added: “If all the problems have now been addressed by the Welsh Government, why do they think this warning was issued today? As GPs in North Wales told me 20 months ago when I met them to discuss the Royal College of General Practioners Wales’ ‘Put Patients First – Back General Practice’ campaign, top of their serious concerns was recruitment, where the average age of GPs in North Wales was over 50 but that they couldn’t recruit, and other concerns included the shortage of beds at community hospitals.”