Welsh lawmakers need to address the wellbeing of practices teams and ensure investment in technology, according to proposals released ahead of the country’s national elections.
The Royal College of GPs Cymru Wales has called for three major priorities to help support general practice as Wales gradually emerges from the pandemic. It is asking Senedd electoral candidates to prioritise tackling inequality, improving wellbeing for GPs, and investing in technology.
RCGP Cymru Wales joint-chair Professor Peter Saul said: “The NHS is always a priority issue come election time, but on this occasion, we have a very specific context with rapid change in primary care and the ongoing pandemic. What is decided over the next Senedd term will define not just general practice but the experience of our patients for years to come.”
The manifesto says there must be a renewed focus on tackling health inequalities, which have been exposed to a greater degree during the pandemic. RCGP Cymru Wales wants to build support for a Deep End Wales project, similar to that in Scotland, to tackle the root causes of poor health outcomes among disadvantaged patients. The second major priority focuses on the wellbeing of GPs and their practice teams, following surveys that show one third of GPs report feeling so stressed they cannot cope at least once or twice a week. The College says there must be protected time for professional and practice development to further develop skills and innovation for the benefit of patients.
The final priority laid out by the College is improving technology in general practice. It calls for the streamlining the process of securely transferring patient data within and between primary and secondary care, more e-prescribing, and urgent investment to bring technology up to the highest possible standard. The College also warns that the rapid shift to telephone and video consultations makes IT infrastructure a key issue for patients because those without sufficient access to IT or who have few digital literacy skills could be disadvantaged.
RCGP Cymru Wales joint-chair Dr Mair Hopkin said: “A sustainable general practice must prioritise the wellbeing of GPs and their teams. They have given so much in the battle against Covid-19 and are proud to be at the forefront of the vaccination programme, but we need the structures and support in place to build an ever better general practice experience for our patients.”