BMA Cymru Wales Chair, Dr Iona Collins responds to the GMC’s State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK workforce report:
“Our members in Wales have highlighted the stark gaps in the NHS workforce for years. Despite our warnings and repeated calls for a proper workforce, we are still waiting to see the necessary data collection and a long-term plan. We are not witnessing any positive action which is improving our workforce crisis in the NHS.
“What should be of most concern to the Welsh Government and NHS employers is the impact this has on patients. The fact that people in England and Scotland have quicker access to a doctor is shameful and Welsh patients deserve better.
“The chronic shortages in our NHS workforce are contributing to delayed surgeries and increasing waiting lists, resulting in prolonged ill health for patients across Wales. We are suffering.
“With fewer doctors per patient in Wales, it is no wonder that doctors here are burned out, demoralised and leaving the profession.
“Our members have regularly told us about the despair they feel when treating patients without appropriate staff numbers and facilities that are unfit for purpose.
“As a result, morale is at an all-time low, especially when they know they have a greater workload than their UK colleagues and yet continue to be paid less than their counterparts elsewhere.
“This is a deepening healthcare crisis, which requires a robust NHS workforce plan. We need to rectify the recruitment and retention of doctors in Wales.
“Medical students who train in Wales are lured to work in England and elsewhere after they qualify as doctors, instead of remaining in Wales. This makes perfect sense when they can earn more money by performing the same job, along with more doctors in England delivering healthcare per head of population.
“We are going to continue haemorrhaging staff out of NHS Wales so long as our NHS continues to undervalue its staff and so long as the system continues to expect its staff to work above and beyond, to compensate for the system's failings. We are not heroes and we are burning out."