Doctors’ leaders are urging the Welsh government to secure a “strong, safe and sustainable future” for general practice after it announced a £240 million ‘boost” for the NHS.
The extra money to help fund on-going demand and service costs was announced in the draft budget unveiled, by Finance Minister Mark Drakeford.
The cash injection for next year’s budget will be used for more primary and community care, investing in new treatments and staff pay awards.
Professor Drakeford also pledged to ‘set in place plans for the recruitment and training of additional GPs and other primary healthcare professionals.’
He announced an extra £7 million for healthcare education, including medical schools.
The draft budget also included £1 billion for the NHS estate – including new medical equipment and IT.
It comes after the Royal College of General Practitioners (Wales) urged the government to spend £297 million over the next five years to “save general practice.”
Dr Rebecca Payne, chair of RCGP Wales, said the cash is needed to recruit an extra 500 doctors, more nurses and paramedics in primary care.
She welcomed the extra money for health unveiled in the draft budget.
“What is absolutely vital is that this additional spend is directed towards general practice which is woefully under resourced and struggling to deal with an ageing population and an increasing number of people living with multiple chronic diseases.”
She said unless things change there is a danger of “problems remaining undiagnosed” and patients waiting longer to see their GP.
Dr Payne said: “There is an urgent need to invest, to embark on an ambitious recruitment campaign, including increasing the places for GP training here in Wales to 200 per year and addressing urgently the number of professionals in the wider primary care team, such as nurses and paramedics.”
The draft budget also includes a £16 million New Treatment Fund which aims to end the ‘postcode lottery’ for new drugs and treatments.
Professor Drakeford said the budget is “about providing stability and ambition in uncertain times.”
He told the Welsh Assembly on Tuesday: “This is a budget in which we are doing all we can to protect our vital public services.”
It is the first Welsh budget since the EU referendum decision. Wales will lose £650 million a year in EU funding after Brexit.