'Do more to monitor GPs vacancies', says Plaid Cymru

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Media captionThe Welsh government said it was working to promote Wales as an attractive place to live and work

More must be done to monitor the number and location of GP vacancies in Wales at a time of "crisis" in recruiting and retaining doctors, says Plaid Cymru.

Health spokeswoman Elin Jones AM said it was "incredible" that no national figures were kept on the GP data.

The Welsh government said it was the responsibility of health boards to keep track of the issue.

It added it was working to promote Wales as an attractive place to live and work.

BBC Radio Cymru's Manylu programme submitted a Freedom of Information Request to find out how many GP vacancies there are in Wales, and which areas are struggling to recruit doctors.

It comes after concerns were raised that areas including Botwnnog, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Aberaeron and Wrexham were struggling to recruit.

'Attractive place to work'

The Welsh government does not collate national figures and both Hywel Dda and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health boards said they did not hold the information because GP practices were independent contractors.

Ceredigion AM Elin Jones said the situation was "incredible" and "unacceptable".

"We need to see Welsh government, with health boards, have an accurate profile - a health check almost - on GP practices throughout Wales to ensure that every part of Wales has ready access to a full GP service," she said.

Nefyn surgery, in Gwynedd, is one of those experiencing difficulties having failed to recruit a partner for the last three years.

Dr Arfon Williams faces being the only full time partner at the 4,500-patient practice from April when another doctor retires.

"It's a big worry. You know logistically, it's very difficult to look after 4,500 patients with maybe the equivalent of one and a half partners so it's a big concern," he said.

"Twenty years ago we had 17 doctors in the Dwyfor area and now we have probably about nine or maybe 10 from next April, it's very concerning."

A Welsh government spokesperson said overall GP numbers in Wales had increased by 11.2% between 2003 and 2013.

But it recognised there were concerns about GP recruitment and retention in some areas and said it was working to promote Wales as an attractive place to live and work.

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