The British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales has expressed concern over the Welsh National Assembly Government’s decision to halt the development of GP practice premises across Wales while the NHS reorganisation takes place.
Last week, the Welsh government instructed local heath boards (LHBs) immediately to cease planning for third party developer projects in primary care in Wales.
According to the BMA, patients who have to visit their doctor in unsuitable surgeries across the length and breadth of Wales will have to wait years before they see an improvement in building standards.
Dr David Bailey, Chairman of the BMA's GP Committee Wales, said: "Despite claiming that one of the government's stated aims is to move care out as much as appropriate into the community closer to patients’ homes, there is now significant planning blight on primary care premises development. To me, this seems to say the least illogical.
"GPC Wales is fully supportive of the drive to move care closer to patients homes and utilise the skills and expertise that exist in primary care. However decisions such as this – ostensibly to allow planning by new organisations not expected to exist until October 2009 – seem to demonstrate a worrying lack of joined-up thinking and will have an effect on morale in primary care probably much greater than the actual delay in premises development."
Dr Bailey added: "We would urge the government to reconsider the issue of this advice and allow LHBs to continue to develop primary care estate and the capacity of NHS Wales right up to the moment they cease to be accountable for these important responsibilities.
“It is totally unacceptable that both patients and GPs will have to put up with inadequate premises while the NHS reorganises itself – a process which will take at least a year to bed down."