Jo Carlowe's article on medical staffing ('Asian few' page 30-31, 3 December) highlights a major problem facing many of the most deprived parts of Wales. The staffing indicators on the age-profile of GPs make particularly gloomy reading.
However, solutions are at hand. Twelve months ago, Dr Julian Tudor Hart - a retired GP with long experience of the South Wales valleys - produced a discussion paper, Going for Gold. This dealt with improving the range and quality of primary care in these most challenging of areas. It proposed:
Setting up Going for Gold practices in selected areas of Wales. These would be founded on principles of real multidisciplinary working by the primary care team, a long-term partnership with the communities served and a salaried service for nurses, doctors and other practitioners.
Accessing all health and social care professionals to address health needs.
A major programme of long-term research - which the community as well as health professionals would help shape.
There is some reason to be optimistic. This publication was enthusiastically adopted by a cross-disciplinary group which has been meeting to develop the concept. There has also been strong encouragement from medical, nursing, academic and political interests. The group, with support from the Welsh Office, is now seeking partners in the South Wales valleys whose primary care services could benefit from the Going for Gold approach.
Professor Morton Warner
Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care
Professor Nigel Stott
Department of General Practice
University of Wales College of Medicine