WQ92896 (e) Wedi’i gyflwyno ar 16/05/2024

Sut y mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn asesu sut y gall cleifion drefnu apwyntiad gyda'u meddyg teulu?

Wedi'i ateb gan Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol | Wedi'i ateb ar 29/05/2024

In delivering on our Programme for Government commitment to improve access to doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals, we have taken a number of steps to make it easier for everyone in Wales, to access GP services.

We are investing £12m over three years from April 2022 to help GP practices build their capacity through additional staff to support improvements to access. Further investment of £3.7m for digital telephony improvements was included in the 2019-20 contract agreement. Following this, the new Unified Contract, which was introduced last year, has made it a contractual requirement for practices to have appropriate telephony and call handling systems in place which support the needs of callers and avoids the need for people to call back multiple times.

Through the new contract, we have made it a requirement for practices that people are able to request a non-urgent consultation through a digital method. This will reduce the number of phone calls to practices, ensuring people who do contact the practice by phone can have their call answered more quickly.

The new contract also specifies the hours during which people must be able to physically access their practice in order to make an appointment, should they wish to do this in person.

In April 2022, a second phase of access standards was launched (GMS Access Commitment). To achieve this commitment, under the access domain of the Quality Improvement Framework, practices were required to:

  • Ensure all patient facing staff undertake the national care navigation training package provided by Health Education Improvement Wales within three months of starting work within the practice.
  • Ensure a mix of remote, face-to-face, urgent, on-the-day and pre-bookable appointments.
  • To maintain a planned and forward-looking approach to scheduling of appointments throughout the day, or for future dates. It is no longer acceptable for all appointments for that day to be released at 8am.
  • Collect patient feedback and use this to develop an access improvement plan, taking into account how they have engaged with patients.

It is the health boards’ responsibility to manage GP contractors and to assess the adequacy of appointment booking systems. Practices must make a quarterly declaration about the access standards; this is verified by health boards and forms part of the dataset that underpins the assurance framework used by health boards to assess whether the GP contractor is delivering the services expected in the Unified Contract to an acceptable quality.

We do not hold data on the time taken to book appointments.

Wales was the first country in the UK to take active steps to tackle the 8am bottleneck. The Welsh Government launched the GMS Access Commitment in April 2022 and at March 2023, 95% of practices told us they were achieving this commitment. The UK Government launched the Primary Care Recovery Plan, which included similar steps to address the 8am rush for appointments in May 2023.

We will continue to work with the GP profession through our social partnership approach to deliver improvement, building on the steps we have already taken and the significant investment we have made. An aging population with poorer health, coupled with population growth means we will always need to review and look for ways to improve the use of funding to ensure service delivery meets patient need.