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gp-surgeriesSeptember 23 2015

GP practices in Wales vulnerable to closure or facing cuts to services in the year ahead will have access to health board support.

The support package which is part of the new GP contract for 2015-17 will include “management and workload support through the primary care cluster networks; additional healthcare professionals and back office and financial support,” said the Welsh Government last Friday. “Any support given will be consistent with the aims of health boards’ three year strategic plans and improving primary care services.”

Wales’ Health and Social Care Minister, Professor Mark Drakeford, said that “the new sustainability framework puts in place a clear system to ensure at-risk GP practices can apply for support, as part of the reform of primary care which health boards are delivering as part of improving services for the public.”

Under the programme, practices will be referred to local assessment panels, which will consist of the health board’s associate medical director along with local medical committee and community health council representatives.

“The panel will base its assessment about whether support should be offered on a ‘risk matrix’ formula, which includes a detailed analysis of the practice’s demographics, premises, income streams, staffing - including age profile and vacancies - as well as clinical governance.”

Funding has been made available within the 2015-16 £140 million primary care fund, with £34 million being invested for primary care service development and £6 million allocated to primary care clusters. “If practices need financial support as part of the sustainability assessment framework, health boards will consider this from their share of primary care fund, as part of delivering the national plan for primary care services.”

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of GPC Wales, commented: “It is vital that access and the continuity of services are secured for patients across Wales and it is important to recognise that rural and deprived urban communities face unique challenges.

“The new framework will ensure practices which are vulnerable to the risk of closure will get proper support in a timely manner and we hope it will provide reassurance to such practices moving forward.”

The Welsh Government has also announced that the Welsh Ambulance Service will be piloting a new clinical response model from October. The focus will be on clinical care rather than the eight-minute response time target.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The new clinical response model will prioritise the most critically-ill patients – those who will die unless they receive a clinical intervention in minutes. They will receive the fastest response possible from all available resources in order to save their lives. These 999 calls, where someone’s life is at risk, will be known as red and they will continue to be measured against the current eight-minute target.”

Links:

Welsh Government statement on GP support  

Welsh Government statement on Welsh Ambulance Service                

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