Board of Community Health Councils Press Statement, 23 May 2018: More needs to be done to address the fragility of GP out of hours care in Wales

Access to out of hours GP care is patchy and the service across Wales is fragile according to a report by the Board of Community Health Councils, published today (23.05.2018) which recommends designing new ways of delivering out of hours care.

Prepared on behalf of the 7 Community Health Councils (CHCs) in Wales ‘The fragility of GP Out of Hours services’ found that every health board in Wales had identified that out of hours services are under strain and most health boards reported that there were not enough GPs to deliver the service consistently.

The CHCs report also found despite health boards taking a range of actions to address the challenges, the proportion of GPs in any area who undertake out of hours shifts remains small.

The report identified an increasing demand for out of hours services, particularly when patients struggle to get an appointment ‘in hours’.

CHCs in Wales want the Welsh Government and the NHS in Wales to work together to introduce a Wales wide solution. Part of this must include engaging with people about the future of GP out of hours services to find out what’s important to them.

Speaking about the report findings, Mutale Merrill, Chair of the Board of CHCs said:

“During 2017/2018 CHCs across Wales became concerned about the increasing fragility of GP services provided ‘out of hours’ through our continuous engagement with health boards.

Health boards have specifically informed CHCs about their need to take urgent action when they are unable to provide a normal service.

CHCs are concerned that sometimes the actions taken to address one problem can have a negative impact on other services and other geographical areas. We believe the solution lies in the NHS in Wales working together to deliver GP out of hours services in a way that responds to what’s important to people.”

What to do when ‘Out of hours’ lets you down:

WAMES advises people with ME and their families to have a plan to deal with various health issues in the event that you cannot contact a GP ‘out of hours’:

  • Have a well stocked First Aid Kit
  • Gather useful web addresses and practice looking for reliable health advice online
  • Are there health professionals among friends and families whom you could contact if necessary?
  • Can you email photos of a problem?
  • Can you get transport at short notice to a health centre or other source of help?
  • NHS Direct Wales is your portal to health information


The Board of CHCs represents the collective voice of the seven CHCs in Wales, provides advice, support and National Standards to underpin the work of the CHCs and monitors their performance.

The CHCs are independent statutory bodies that exist to represent the interests of patients and the public in the planning and delivery of NHS services.

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