A HEALTH chief has welcomed a Welsh Government announcement which is expected to improve service for patients in Wales.

Earlier this week Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, announced the 'Access to in hours General Medical Services Standards'.

These standards, the Board of Community Health Councils (CHCs) has said, will raise and improve the level of service for patients in Wales.

The standards include that people receive a prompt response to their contact with a GP practice via telephone and that practices have the appropriate telephony systems in place to support the needs of people avoiding the need to call back multiple times and will check that they are handling calls in this way.

Other standards include people being able to access information on how to get help and advice, people being able to use a range of options to contact their GP practice and practices understanding the needs of people and using this information to anticipate the demand on services.

In his statement, Mr Gething said: "Accessing health and wellbeing services is a matter of significant importance to this Government.

"I continue to work to ensure the health and care system is working as effectively as possible and evolving to meet people’s needs.

"I know GPs and their practice teams are under pressure to meet demand. At the same time, I know people’s expectations on access are not being met.

"Our approach to local healthcare for Wales should help people to understand how to stay as healthy and well as possible and supports the vision set out in A Healthier Wales.

"I will set national delivery milestones for this journey so there is pace and consistency across Wales.

"Over time I would like to see these standards developed further so that services are continually improving for the citizens of Wales."

|CHCs across Wales have welcomed the announcement.

John Pearce, newly appointed chair of the board of CHCs, said: “We are pleased to see that the new standards respond to many of the things people tell us is important to them when they need to access GP services.

“We hope the introduction of these standards will help to drive the very real improvement needed so that people can be confident of accessing the care and treatment they need from their local GP practice when they need it.”