BMA Cymru Wales calls on new health minister to invest in staff as NHS faces significant recovery in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

by BMA Cymru Wales media team

Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.

Location: Wales
Last reviewed: 18 May 2021

BMA Cymru Wales has written to Eluned Morgan, the newly appointed minister for health and social services setting out its priorities for the next political term. As the NHS in Wales emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, exhausted healthcare professionals are now tasked with treating a record number of patients waiting for treatment.

The letter incorporates the priorities set out in BMA Cymru Wales’ 2021 Senedd election manifesto for health which includes an urgent plea to prioritise the retention of existing and recruitment of new NHS staff to treat the 500,000 patients who are awaiting surgery in Wales.

Authored by BMA Cymru Wales’ Council Chair Dr David Bailey the letter calls upon the Welsh Government to support the health service’s biggest recovery yet.

Backed by doctors across Wales, Dr Bailey said: “Recruitment must be prioritised and that will require investment. Staff shortages existed long before the pandemic hit, and staff in place are exhausted – they must be supported through the challenging time ahead. Failure to do so could lead to staff leaving the profession early, resulting in a significant loss of experience and knowledge”

The better use of space inside healthcare estates is also listed as a crucial step in its recovery.

“The space within hospital facilities needs to be made better use of. This will allow for more patients to be seen while at the same time maintaining safe conditions for patients and staff”

Diagnostic tests in the community is another way the union believes could “speed up the patient pathway and potentially remove the need for referral altogether”

“Through investment in these key areas Welsh Government will be able to considerably reduce the amount of time that it will take for waiting times to return to pre-pandemic levels” said Dr Bailey.

The doctor’s union also believes prioritising the welfare of staff will lead to better retention of staff, ensuring they have adequate breaks and space for respite.

This follows the results of a recent member survey, where 55% of doctors said they are currently suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or other mental health conditions.

Additionally, the introduction of a national ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ Guardian would dramatically improve patient safety across health boards in Wales. The role which is already established in Scotland and England enables doctors to report issues anonymously without fear of recrimination.

“A healthcare workforce that feels valued, supported and healthy is able to provide the best possible levels of support and care for patients” Dr Bailey said.
Lastly doctors across Wales are calling on the Welsh Government to address the significant health inequalities that exist across Wales.

“Action on smoking, obesity, air pollution, physical inactivity and alcohol misuse are critical to be physical and mental wellbeing of the population. These, along with investment in mental health services, campaigns to help people manage their own health, and support for children at risk of adverse childhood experiences, are required immediately to ensure that Wales is better protected from future viruses and illnesses” said Dr Bailey.

“Together we face a monumental challenge, but we look forward to working with the minister and the Welsh Government to provide the people of Wales with the very best care”

Notes to editors

Read the manifesto for the 2021 Senedd election ‘A Manifesto for Health.

About the BMA

  • The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK
  • A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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