DOCTORS are “worried sick” about their ability to serve patients after talks over a potential rescue package broke down.

Representatives of the GP Committee Wales have urged the Welsh Government to come back to the negotiating table with an offer that provides “security and sustainability for practices and patients alike”.

Nearly 1 in 5 surgeries have closed in the last decade leaving GPs responsible for an “unmanageable” number of patients, the chair of GPC Wales has said.

Health minister Eluned Morgan says the government cannot afford to increase their offer without additional funding from Westminster.

Dr Rowena Christmas, chair of the Royal College of GPs in Wales and a GP in Monmouthshire, told BBC Radio Wales today, Wednesday, October 25, that general practice surgeries were the “bedrock” of the NHS.

“If we’re able to do our job well, everything else in the NHS will work well as well.

“I think they need to find the money. If they don’t give us our money, we’re going to lose our staff," she said. 

"This is absolutely essential that we invest in primary care to save all of the NHS in Wales. We are worried sick. I have to say GP practices will be closing across Wales as a result of this if we can’t get those contract negotiations back up and running."

Chair of GPC Wales Dr Gareth Oelmann says GPs face “unsustainable pressure” with persistent difficulties in recruiting permanent staff and some cases of extreme burnout causing hospitalisation.

“General Practice does not have sufficient funds for workforce, premises or services to meet the growing needs of patients,” he said.

South Wales Argus: Words of warning: Dr Gareth Oelmann (left) and Dr Rowena Christmas (right)

“This is already undermining patient safety, and we are clear, without investment from Welsh Government, the future of the service is at real risk of collapse.

“It will be particularly galling to the profession across Wales that there is nothing resembling a rescue package for general practice on the table. We have been absolutely clear that practices and patients will suffer because of it.”

Eluned Morgan, minister for health and social services, says she understood the "strength of feeling" that exists among GPs about the need for a pay offer that reflects their pressures and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

She said the Welsh Government’s offer was restrained by “tight budgets brought about by economic mismanagement by the UK Government and high levels of inflation".

South Wales Argus: Eluned Morgan MS

“Without additional funding from UK Government, we are not in a position to currently increase that offer.

“We will continue to press them to pass on the funding necessary for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers," the minister said.

"We remain committed to working with unions and we are available for further talks with the General Practitioners Committee Wales at any stage.”