Doctor to patient ratio reaches critical point in Flintshire

Reporter:

Helen Davies and Matt Jones

DOCTORS in Flintshire are dealing with more patients than any other county in North Wales.

Fears have been raised that some surgeries are fast running out of spaces with GPs and community leaders worried patient care could suffer.

And the situation could get worse amid expected spending cuts from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Dr Eamonn Jessup, vice-chairman of North Wales Local Medical Committee, told the Leader that Flintshire had the highest patient to doctor ratio in North Wales.

He said: “There is no doubt Flintshire has the highest rates. This is something that concerns GPs because they want to give the best service.”

Dr Jessup also said that unless new health centre projects were at a fairly advanced stage there would be concerns about them progressing due to the cutbacks.

Dr Tim Davies, a doctor at The Quay Surgery in Connah’s Quay and also co-vice chair of the committee told the Leader his surgery has seen a surge of patients since they moved to the new Fron Road site.

He said: “We have 5,700 patients between three doctors which is about 1,900 patients per GP.

“I believe the British Medical Association advises there should be approximately 1,500 patients per GP.

“A lot of staff work longer hours to manage this number but it is possible further growth would mean patients will get less time without more staff being employed.

“We’ve had a lot of new patients joining recently so will need to monitor our list size over the next few months, we would like to expand and employ another doctor but have to take into account financial pressures and recruitment with ongoing health cuts.”

The situation has reached critical point in Buckley where there are concerns a new medical centre will not be built in time to take on extra patients from new housing developments.

Buckley Mountain councillor Carol Ellis said she is worried a planned 89 new homes due to be built near Field Farm Lane will put pressure on the town’s medical centre.

“I’m not surprised there’s a shortage of places with all the developments that are in place,” she said.

“It’s always the same in the planning process; they get permission but don’t look at consequences such as medical services.”

A new medical centre, due to be built on Mill Lane, has been given outline planning permission but Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has yet to submit a bid for funding to the Welsh Assembly Government and submit designs for full planning consent.

Dr Stephen Botham from the Marches Medical Practice said plans to relocate its health centre may not come into place soon enough to cope with the pressure on places.

“There is a very large housing development on the Church Road site,” he said.

“The concern is families will be moving in before we can expand.”

North Wales AM Mark Isherwood visited the medical practice.

He said: “I was concerned to learn that local practices in Buckley have reached capacity and that planning and investment will be required to meet the increased demand generated by large housing developments in the area.”

A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “Flintshire has a slightly higher patient to doctor ratio than other parts of North Wales, largely because the area is more densely populated."

See full story in the Leader

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