Recruiting GPs is proving “extremely difficult” for a health board but its special measures status is not putting doctors off.
Dr Gareth Bowdler, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area medical director, has told a Flintshire Council committee that hiring new doctors was tough and is “causing difficulties”.
The perception that the work load would be greater is hampering recruitment, Dr Bowdler said, rather than the health board being in special measures, which is seen as a “hospital problem”.
Dr Bowdler answered questions from members of the social and health care overview and scrutiny committee as health board officials updated councillors on primary care and community services.
He told councillors that strategies on how to improve the recruitment situation are being discussed and how existing, older and retiring doctors can work moving forward, such as into training roles, by reducing clinical work or working under more flexible conditions.
“We need to make GPs feel well supported,” he said. “We want them to be actively seeing patients rather than reading letters and filing reports.”
He said the health board’s status in special measures – in place for more than two years over serious concerns regarding patient care – “doesn’t put doctors off, the perception that the work load is greater puts people off”.
Dr Bowdler added that a priority for BCUHB “is to make sure the capacity is there to see those poorly and sick at surgeries” which was “not always something we get right”.
Asked about a potential care “crisis” should Flintshire’s local development plan for 5,000 homes be implemented, Dr Bowdler said the health board was “aware of the challenges” facing care provision in the future.
Rob Smith, BCUHB east area director said at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, there had also been a problem recruiting nurses “for some time” but there was no evidence to suggest it had been exacerbated by Brexit.
Mr Smith gave councillors an update on the work of community resources teams and how the health board is “making some progress” on treating patients at home rather than admitting to hospital.
He said funding had been identified to build resources that cover 24/7 periods when patients feel most vulnerable.
Nikki Smith, community resource team leader, said the aim was “to promote independence” for patients.