Wales only needs “small changes” to ensure patients can get a practice appointment at a good time, its health minister has said.
The Welsh government says its research has shown the public want better access to GP services. Ministers were hoping to find public awareness of the country’s “choose well” campaign, which encouraged patients to use pharmacists when necessary.
The findings came from focus groups and interviews with individuals. According to the published findings, the research showed backing for the “choose well” idea and a desire for more information about what count as non-urgent and urgent appointments.
Both the Welsh government and GP leaders said changes were in the pipeline because of a new contract, backed by several million pounds of extra money.
Dr Phil White, chair of the British Medical Association’s Welsh GP committee, said: “We are pleased that the Welsh Government’s research indicates that patients are aware of the pressure GPs are under to ensure that they receive the best possible care. GPC Wales continues to strive for better access for patients and recognise the challenges that patients face.
“This is why during our recent contract negotiations we successfully negotiated a further £3 million investment to help enable practices in Wales to meet the access standards so that GPs can continue to deliver high quality care to patients.
“GPC Wales believes that all patients should be seen in a way that is most appropriate and most suitable for their need.”
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said: “There is work to be done to help people make appointments and to see a GP or appropriate healthcare professional at a convenient time. With some small changes and better use of technology we can resolve many of these issues.
“We are introducing new standards and trialling new ways of working, including extended opening hours. There are many excellent examples of best practice among GP surgeries across Wales and our new standards are based on these.
“We have agreed a way forward with GPs in the new contract and I look forward to working with them to see these changes put in place.”