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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2009 resolution to the WAG “Don’t leave doctors out in the cold this New Year”

As Chair of Welsh Council, I, like Richard would like to wish everyone all the best for the New Year. I'd also like to elaborate on Richard's comments about the challenging times facing doctors in the Welsh NHS, in 2009.

As we face another reorganisation of the NHS we could well ask ourselves "what is different about this one, from the numerous ones we have faced in the past?" This is a good and important question.

I think this one is different because of the underlying change of direction. That is, to dismantle the market place, the purchaser-provider split, with a return to a strategic planning of services. Also, the stated Ministerial aim to put doctors and other healthcare professionals back into the centre of decision making in the NHS and the services for patients, is to be welcomed.

We need to now be considering how best to be involved in the process of planning patient services in this new system. I know many of us will have doubts and bad past experiences. We have all had those. But I think we have a good opportunity now to get back to being influential, to be listened to and helping to change patient services, instead of having changes imposed on us, by those often furthest away from actual patient care.

If we don't get involved now, I think we will miss the chance that may not occur again for another 5 to 10 years. That will be damaging to patients and the care they receive.

But that said, as we doctors reflect on how best to involve ourselves in a way that best benefits our patients in the new Welsh NHS proposals, we would urge the Welsh Assembly Government and those who manage health services in Wales to make a New Year's resolution...don't let the commitment to a greater involvement of doctors and other health professionals be a passing phase, or one of those New Year's resolutions that start with good intentions but fade quickly as the New Year moves on. The medical profession in Wales is eager to rise to the challenge of making these new reforms work for the people of Wales - don't lose our confidence and trust by reneging on that Resolution and side-stepping doctors. This is a pivotal point for the NHS in Wales. Don't risk throwing away the seasonal goodwill of the profession in Wales.

Andrew Dearden,

Chair of BMA's Welsh Council

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