Jane Dodds has called for more support for rural GPs in Wales.
Speaking in the Senedd this week, the Mid and West Wales MS said she has visited quite a few rural GPs recently to discuss the challenges they face.
Ms Dodds said: “A common theme that comes out of the discussions is that the current contractual set-up and funding models do not sufficiently account for the extra services that they (GPs) provide, such as phlebotomy, same-day appointments, et cetera, which rural surgeries have to provide because, in urban areas, you might have them at hand.
“So, I'm backing a rural GP payment in order to ensure that we're able to support our rural GPs.”
The Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths MS said that she does “absolutely accept” the point Ms Dodds made around rural GPs and said it is obvious that these GPs probably have to provide different services to their patients than those in urban areas.
“I know the Minister has been working very hard around a marketing campaign to make sure that rural surgeries are able to make it, for new GPs coming there, attractive, going forward, because we've seen a significant increase in the take-up of GP training places, but perhaps in the urban areas more than the rural areas,” she said.
“I’m not sure if a rural surgery payment is being looked at, but you will be aware, obviously, that there were financial incentives offered for GPs back from, I think, about 2017.”
Speaking after the Senedd session, Ms Dodds said: “Our rural communities have been hit hard over the past few years, with cuts to vital services severely impacting access to local health care and forcing many to travel long distances.
“In recent conversations with general practitioners across Powys, a common theme that has arisen is that current setup and funding models do not account for the extra services that rural surgeries must offer due to a lack of nearby alternatives.
“More must be done to tailor financial and structural support so rural GPs can keep operating sustainably.
“With nearly 100 surgeries in Wales closing over the past decade, we cannot risk further isolating our rural populations.
“We need an urgent review into the funding arrangements for rural GPs to ensure that they can continue to meet the needs of local people.”