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Government must plan now for future GP workforce

2009 Medi 14 7:55 AM

Statistics released today show that the Government have to start looking at how they will deal with a potential GP shortage in the future, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister Peter Black has said.

The 'Workforce Statistics for General Practitioners in Wales, 1998 - 2008' has highlighted that 21.5% of GPs are aged 55 or over, and that in some areas over 40%. The total number of GPs aged 55 or over has increased from 256 in 1998 to 418 in 2008, a rise of 63%. This represents a change from 14.4% of the total number of GPs in Wales who are over 55, to 21.5%. The number of GPs aged 65 or over has also risen from 18 to 46. The number of younger GPs has however fallen. In 1998 there were 969 GPs aged 44 or under, in 2008 this had fallen to 784. Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Minister, Peter Black, said: "These statistics show is that there is a significant number of GPs who are entering the phase of their life when they will be looking at retirement, and there are fewer younger GPs to replace them. This is concerning, particularly for areas such as Merthyr Tydfil, where almost half their GPs are aged 55 or over." "While this does not present an immediate problem, if it remains untackled, then in a few years several parts of Wales could see a significant shortage in the number of practising GPs. This is a problem that affects Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as well as Wales, so there is potential for a UK-wide shortage if action is not taken now." "The Welsh Government are putting more emphasis on primary care and yet are failing to grow the number of GPs or to plan sufficiently to replace those who will be retiring within the next ten years. In England there has been a 16% increase in the number of GPs, whilst in Wales there has been no change in total numbers in the last 10 years. That is bad planning and contradicts the government's own strategy."

Notes: Full statistics can be found here

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