Wrexham residents have been warned that there is a "long way to go before the people of Wrexham get what they deserve" by the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board.

Dr Gareth Bowdler, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area medical director, has told a Wrexham Council committee that patients face a long wait before getting a service they need.

Wrexham Council's Safeguarding, Communities and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee raised concerns at a meeting in July regarding problems accessing GPss and surgeries, specifically Hillcrest, Borras and Forge Road.

Dr Bowdler, alongside Rob Smith, BCUHB area director East, updated the committee this week about the current state of GP surgeries in Wrexham.

Dr Bowdler said: "We have managed to secure two locum GPs who are committed to Hillcrest for 12 months, nearly full time. So from this week onwards there is medical cover all day every day, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

"We also have some more nurses coming and more reception staff. The two main concerns raised by our patients were the difficulty of getting through on the phones and getting appointments.

"We have acknowledged that in order to successfully recruit new doctors, we need to create an interesting and supportive environment, this includes multi-clinical triage. However, there is a long way to go before people of Wrexham get what they deserve and need."

Despite the two new recruits, Dr Bowdler admitted that the health board are still five GPs off what is needed to provide a service for the patients of the three surgeries, with recruitment still the main issue.

NHS GPs in England earn roughly 10 to 20% more than GPs in Wales currently, something that the health board can't change.

He added: "We have more funding than we can spend it on currently, we lack the man power and clinicians. We have looked at recruiting from abroad but recruits need a year of training before starting.

"There is a new medical school in Bangor and while it is going to be a few years start to finish, that is the future for our longer term problems. Training GPss and staff in north Wales will draw in senior colleagues, which is something I'm excited about."

Mr Smith added: "We can't make decisions on pay, we can't change that, hence why it makes it even more difficult to try and get GPs to work weekends. The focus is on GPs in the week first.

"We're doing as much as we can to keep trainees in Wales and with students to pursue a career in north Wales, more specifically north east Wales. We've had two GPs recruited in Flintshire recently, which shows it is possible."

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