Rhondda GPs united in recruitment drive

Doctors in Rhondda are working together to improve the recruitment of GPs and healthcare professionals.

The Rhondda Cluster of GPs, a collaboration of 14 practices across the valleys, decided that they wanted to support the search for medical staff to fill vacancies in their communities.

The cluster group is unveiling a new website RhonddaDocs.wales to promote the area as a vibrant place to work and to advertise the available jobs.

There is a UK-wide shortage of GPs, making recruitment challenging across the country.

GPs in Rhondda wanted to play a proactive part in the efforts to increase the number of doctors per head of population in an area where sickness and chronic disease is above the Welsh average.

Dr Ian O’Sullivan, based in the Pont Newydd medical centre in Porth, said: “We want to create a place where patients get great care, while doctors achieve quality in their workplace and a better work life balance.”

The variety of work in the area would be attractive to new doctors, said the GP, who was involved in the RhonddaDocs website project.

 “There is a high level of morbidity in Rhondda and we see a lot of cases of illness you wouldn’t see elsewhere. It is a place where you can make a bigger difference.”

He believed that potential recruits might have misconceptions about the former coal-mining area as a place to work, which the group wanted to dispel by information on its website.

Funding increased

The cluster group, one of four across Cwm Taf University Health Board area, was formed in a Welsh Government initiative to allow doctors a greater say in how they provide services to their communities.

Funding for the clusters initiative in Rhondda was increased this year from £190,272 to £315,575, out of a £1m pot for the Cwm Taf health board area.

The money is already making a difference for more than 80,000 patients in Rhondda.

New technology is improving the access to services, such as blood pressure ‘pods’ in surgery waiting rooms, enabling patients to take their own BP readings, saving time with their GP.

Doctors all have computer tablets to take on home visits and to nursing homes to allow remote access to a patient’s history while surgeries have installed ECG machines with blue tooth connectivity to update records.

A shift from hospital to community based care aims to build services closer to home, relieving demand on hospitals.

The programmes plan and deliver care proportionate to need, such as cardiovascular risk health checks which are aimed at more deprived communities.

The up-skilling of the primary care team creates capacity and capability in surgeries.

Dr O’Sullivan said: “There are already changes taking place to try to diversify the workplace so that the work of GPs and others can be delegated to other suitably qualified healthcare professionals.

“This will allow GPs to have longer appointments and better quality time with our patients.”

 “We have got a traditional NHS that harbours the culture of Aneurin Bevan, the ideals of the NHS, and there is less bureaucracy and red tape than in England, I believe. We also feel quite close to the decision makers and able to influence them.

“We have grateful patients, whom we feel respect us, and we have a traditional status and role in the community.”

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