It is unquestionable that many GPs are facing ongoing demands and workload in their day to day practice. With over 14 Primary Care Clusters located within Wales, Welsh GP practices working as a cluster through coordinating access to research and evaluation expertise ensures health and care services are better co-ordinated and supported to deliver sustainable primary care to patients. This requires recurrent funding and robust workforce training planning.
Dr Charlotte Jones, Chair of GPC Wales focused on the current NHS within Wales, stressing the importance of how "clusters are here to stay", and how it is imperative for GP practices to make clusters work for them in order to collaboratively transform primary care, especially around the three key pressures being workforce, workload and resources. Charlotte further stated "significant work is required in communicating the rationale for the cluster model, ensuring enthusiastic engagement, facilitate true collaboration and provide proper funding to support"
The Welsh Government is committed in changing and developing GP clusters and will be focusing in addressing the key areas of priority mainly around indemnity, reducing GP workloads, uplift contracts, QOF and cluster network domain revisions, last man standing liabilities and the overall workforce, and will be followed by a wider review of the overall GMS contract. Will the profession recover? Only time will tell - further dialogue and input by GPs and practice managers in particular at the various Welsh Government boards remains a key objective.
Other conference topics included an NWIS initiatives update having positive impact on practices such as 'Choose Pharmacy' and 'My Health Online' and use of IT from Head of Primary Care, Martin Dickinson, an general update from the CEO, Alex Howells of Health Education and Improvement Wales. This was followed by workshops consisting of Xytal Ltd's change implementation in practices, the meaning of a healthier Wales for GPs from Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health, Alan Lawrie and National Director and Strategic Programme Lead for Primary Care, Sue Morgan, as well as getting your house in order by VWV Partner, Oliver Pool.
Ben Willis, who chaired the conference:
"I have always admired the resilience and adaptability of GP Practices - and those in Wales have had a very tough few years. The conference was an opportunity for Practice Managers and GPs to come together, listen to an informed group of speakers and to debate the issues they face. I do hope that all those who came felt that they learnt something of benefit to themselves and their practices."