Welsh Government: New NHS workforce plan published
The Welsh Government has published its National Workforce Implementation Plan in response to the increased demands on the NHS workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With over 105,000 staff directly employed by the NHS in Wales, the government is seeking to address the growing demand for healthcare workers globally.
The World Health Organisation predicts a shortfall of 10 million health workers by 2030.
The plan includes immediate actions such as recruiting more nurses from overseas, creating an All-Wales Collaborative Bank to address short-term staffing issues, and deploying reservists to support the regular workforce during periods of extreme pressure.
The government also aims to encourage more volunteers into the health and care system.
Detailed plans for specific professions and services will be released over the next two years.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said the government’s plans were based on what NHS staff had told them, with rapid action needed in key areas.
MS Morgan said: “Our health workforce has reached record numbers in Wales, to help meet the increasing demand on its services.”
“But we are seeing demand for health and social care like never before, in Wales and across the world.”
“Our plans are based on what NHS staff have been telling us – that rapid action is needed in key areas now.”
“The message is clear: we must accelerate our action, with strong, collective and compassionate leadership, if we are to improve retention and recruitment.”
“It’s vital we provide our workforce with the working environment it needs to continue to provide world-class care for the people of Wales.”
Dr Olwen Williams OBE, Vice President for Wales at the Royal College of Physicians, welcomed the publication of the plan, saying that staff shortages were the biggest challenge facing the NHS, according to a recent survey of members.
Dr Willaims said: “We know the NHS workforce is under a great deal of pressure.”
“In our most recent membership survey in December 2022, the Royal College of Physicians found that staff shortages are the biggest challenge facing the NHS, with 64% of respondents in Wales saying they were being asked to fill rota gaps at short notice and 49% saying that reducing staff vacancies in their team would make the biggest difference to their wellbeing.”
“I’m delighted to see this plan published. We’ve previously joined with other royal colleges and professional bodies to call for action, and this is an important first step in the process.”
“We also welcome recent engagement with the royal colleges over this workforce plan and hope to continue these conversations.”
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, questioned the plan’s credibility, saying that it failed to address the issue of fair pay for workers and blaming the Welsh Government for not increasing funding and failing to use the powers they hold, including taxation.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS welcomed the long-overdue plan, but criticised the Labour Government for treating staff poorly and for spending excessive amounts on covering nurse vacancies.
George added that the workforce was essential for the sustainability of public healthcare and criticised the Labour Government for Wales’ record-breaking A&E and ambulance waits and longest treatment waiting list.
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