NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is calling for improved access to GP services.
Mr Hamilton, was commenting after research identified a need for more flexible opening hours. He said:
“This latest research highlights what we all know – namely the very real problems people have in getting an appointment with their GP. The Welsh Government must take note of this research and listen to what the public are telling them.
“Last month I welcomed news that more people were taking up GP training places and the Welsh Government’s intention to increase these numbers. We must attract more GPs, especially younger doctors, to come and practice in Wales and thereby ease the current shortage.
“I am constantly being told and hear about GP practices under threat because they can’t attract doctors. This results either in closure or, at best, a reduction in services. This cannot be allowed to continue. The public deserve better.
“Flexible opening hours for surgeries has to be seriously considered so that people can have greater and easier access to their GP’s.”
The research, commissioned by the Welsh Government, was conducted through focus groups and in-depth face-to-face interviews across Wales.
Apart from identifying a need for more flexible opening hours in GP surgeries, it also found people agreed with the Choose Well campaign, which asks people to use the most appropriate healthcare services for their condition, including visiting a pharmacist for help and advice.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said the research will help the Welsh Government’s efforts to improve access to GP services.
He said they had recently published a new set of standards for GP services and are providing an extra £13m to help GP surgeries deliver them.
He said: “It is clear from the research the public recognises the pressure on our hard-working GPs and the need for everyone to Choose Well when considering what treatment they need.
“However there is work to be done to help people make appointments and to see a GP or appropriate healthcare professional at a convenient time.”
The Minister added they were introducing new standards and trialing new ways of working, including extended opening hours.