PEMBROKESHIRE has more empty GP and GP training posts than the rest of Wales, a report by Hywel Dda Health Board has revealed.

The struggle to fill GP posts - most notably in Tenby, where four positions have remained empty for 18 months – was named as one of the main challenges facing the county at a board meeting on Thursday (November 26).

A report by Joe Teape, director of operations, said Pembrokeshire also suffered from more empty hospital nursing posts than any other site within the health board, and higher vacancy rates among hospital doctors in paediatrics, emergency medicine, psychiatry and medical specialties than anywhere else in Wales.

In the long term, financial challenges will be coupled with increasing demand for services, which is predicted to double by 2033 as patients with complex needs need more support to enable them to remain at home, and the county’s already high ratio of over-65s increases further.

But progress was being made to respond to these challenges and adapt for the future, said Mr Teape.

A promise to speed up the development of a new – albeit smaller than planned - chemotherapy day unit at Withybush had been made, although development of Ward 10 would be delayed while more funding was sought.

There had also been several strides towards more services being offered in the community, with priorities including changing how leg ulcer care was delivered, recruiting and keeping more primary care (GP) staff, developing ‘telehealth’ facilities, improving frailty care, and educating patients about their health.

This was coupled with a boost to doctor numbers at Withybush following successful recruitment from overseas, which in turn would mean beds temporarily closed at the hospital during the summer looked likely to re-open by January.