THE body representing family doctors in Wales has given a cautious welcome to Welsh Government proposals to invest up to £68 million in 19 health and care centre projects during the next four years.

Two such centres - dubbed 'super-surgeries' because they would house a range of primary and other care services under one roof - are earmarked for Gwent, in east Newport and Tredegar.

The investment was announced yesterday as the biggest to be targeted at primary and community care infrastructure by the Welsh Government.

But Dr Charlotte Jones, who chairs the GP Committee of the British Medical Association in Wales, said the committee "is keen to hear more detail about plans to deliver nineteen new integrated health and care centres across Wales.

"We would particularly welcome information regarding the allocation of funding and how the distribution of projects has been decided upon," she said.

“Whilst we welcome improving access to services closer to people’s homes, it’s difficult to assess the impact this will have without knowing the intricacies of how it will work."

She added that the initial reaction from members of Local Medical Committees (LMCs) - comprising GPs in different areas of Wales - "suggests that they haven’t been involved in the design of the scheme."

“It’s vital that local clinicians, who understand the needs of the local community, are involved in service design to ensure that patients receive the services they deserve," said Dr Jones.

“As part of the work to improve access to local services, investment is desperately needed to ensure the GP estate is fit for purpose.

"Robust premises strategies must be developed, with the full involvement of LMCs.”

The development of integrated health and care centres, as well as bringing more services closer to the people who use them, will enable ageing surgeries and clinic buildings - such as those deemed not fit for purpose which have contributed to Tredegar being on the priority list - to be replaced or upgraded.