The BMA Cymru Wales blog has moved

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Action needed now to stop NHS Wales becoming unsafe for staff and patients

Unless urgent action is taken to plug the gap in the shortage of middle grade doctors, the NHS in Wales could become unsafe both for staff and patients.

The problem‘s been highlighted this week within Hywel Dda NHS Trust, where 62 posts remain vacant.

But this situation is by no means isolated to Hywel Dda, with Abertawe Bro Morganwg Trust having had to move some specialist services because they were inadequately staffed. Similar problems are also affecting North Wales too.

We are facing unprecedented levels of a lack of middle grade and junior doctors right across Wales, which is clearly unacceptable to both our members and people needing hospital treatment and this does not look like changing in the immediate future.

There are a variety of reasons for this shortage, one being that Wales does not top the list of places where many junior doctors desire to work. Also, changes to the rules regarding immigration have caused problems with recruitment across the whole of the UK, not just Wales.

The high level of middle grade and junior doctor vacancies means that consultants are left picking up the pieces where there are gaps in rotas. This is compromising consultants’ ability to deliver routine daily work and there is no evidence that hospitals are adjusting services to take these shortfalls into account. Inevitably, the rates of work being undertaken cannot be sustained with the current levels of staffing. Hospital managers really need to address this now, working with clinical colleagues.

These problems come as no surprise however to us at the BMA, having predicted that these shortages would happen at some point. That is why we have, for some time now been trying to meet with representatives from the Welsh Assembly Government, to see how we can work together, drawing on the experience of front line doctors, especially juniors, to look for some solutions to the situation.

BMA Cymru Wales has also worked in partnership with the Wales Deanery for Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education, to produce a DVD for students, giving an invaluable insight into medical training here.

The aim of the video is to promote Wales as a primary destination to study medicine and to attract more junior doctors to apply, to complete their postgraduate training here. However, the positive effects of this will not be seen immediately.

The initiative to provide free accommodation for F1 doctors has been welcomed by BMA Cymru Wales and has had some impact. Yet, I think far more effort should have been put into anticipating and planning for the current shortages, especially the impact of the European Working Time Directive which has been known about for more than 13 years! Whilst it is very late in the day, I urge the Welsh Assembly Government and employers to focus on the actions we have been highlighting for some considerable time. I do not think sufficient, co-ordinated efforts to recruit and retain doctors to Wales has been made.

While in the short term, we have to have contingency plans put in place as soon as possible to ensure the safety of both NHS staff and patients, we need far more sustainable solutions if NHS Wales is to deliver and maintain the quality and capacity of services the people of Wales deserve.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave your comment on this post.