New figures published in an annual report by the Welsh Government have shown that the number of registered GPs working in Wales is at its lowest since 2013.
There are currently 1,926 GPs working in Wales – 83 fewer than in 2016. In the same period, the number of GP locums has risen by 10.2%.
Worryingly, of the 212 GP practitioners leaving the workforce between 2016 and 2017, just over half re-joined as a locum.
Commenting on the report, Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire – Russell George – said that GPs had been warning of a recruitment crisis for years.
"For my part, it's important that we pay tribute to our local GPs, nurses and healthcare professionals; they do an outstanding job in often difficult circumstances.
"However, when I speak to local people here in Mid Wales, while patients are generally pleased with their local GP practice, there is specific concern with how long patients have to wait to receive an appointment.
"One of the most pressing issues is GP recruitment. This is rapidly becoming a crisis for the NHS across Wales, placing our general practitioners under severe strain."
“There are a number of practises in in Montgomeryshire attempting to recruit GPs, including in Newtown, Llanidloes, Glantwymyn and Montgomery.
Mr George added:
"The Welsh Government’s failure to heed warnings from organisations like the BMA has led to a serious crisis in GP recruitment and retention.
"I do meet with local GPs, and often meet with Powys Teaching Health Board to discuss the issue of GP recruitment in Mid Wales. The situation here in rural Mid Wales is approaching breaking point.
“Not only are they working under considerable pressure, they have also been burdened with the increasing cost of medical insurance.
“GPs have been warning of a crisis for years, and the issue of reforming their contracts continues to cast a long shadow over the profession.
“These new figures further emphasise the need for systemic, long-term planning of the Welsh NHS, including action to improve recruitment and retention initiatives for frontline staff.”