Column published in the Llanelli Herald on April 7th 2017
We had good news this week about an increase in the number of GPs that are being trained.
As family Doctors retire, and more and more opt to work part-time, many local surgeries have been struggling.
Welsh Labour Health Secretary Vaughan Gething launched an incentive scheme to offer £20,000 to trainee Doctors who sign up to areas that have shortages.
This week we heard that the scheme has helped bring a 16% increase in the number of trainee GPs.
The campaign has focused on marketing Wales as an attractive place for GPs and their families, to train, work and live by highlighting the benefits and opportunities offered by a medical career in Wales.
Developments like the new ‘Front of House’ model at Prince Philip Hospital and the planned ‘Wellness Centre’ at Delta Lakes complement this message by offering opportunities for Doctors to research and develop while they practice as GPs.
As well as highlighting what a great place Wales is to live the campaign offers to pay the exam fees of trainee Doctors. And students who sign up to train in specialist areas that have shortages will get further financial incentives on the understanding they remain in the area in they trained for one year of practice afterwards.
There are still spare training places and efforts will continue to fill them. The early signs are very encouraging with the number of GP training places filled at the end of the first round of recruitment currently stands 84 per cent - compared to 68 per cent at this stage last year.
The next phase of the campaign is being launched next month and will target nurses in primary care, secondary care and the care home sector and will launch in May. Future phases of the campaign will target pharmacists and allied health professionals.
As well as getting more people to become Doctors we need to modernise the model of the way local surgeries work. I met with Llanelli GPs recently and they are trying a number of ways of changing the way they work by building up clinical teams around them. So instead of just having a family Doctor surgeries will increasingly offer the services of a physiotherapist, a pharmacist, a paramedic and a nurse practitioner.