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2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the NHS – a Welsh creation. Like everybody else we celebrated this landmark anniversary – and we also worked hard to ensure that our NHS remains true to Nye Bevan’s principles. However, we know that the working environment you currently face is unsustainable and needs immediate improvement. And so, as we approach the end of the year, I wanted to let you know what we’ve been doing to represent your views at a national and local level.
Delivering for you and leading the way
We negotiated a pay deal which ensured the DDRB recommendations were backdated to April and implemented in full. All hospital doctors should receive the backdated pay award in this month’s salary. Please contact us if this is not the case.
We have also made significant inroads into improving the facilities available to doctors in hospitals and in addressing the growing issues of rota gaps, sleep deprivation and fatigue. Following a summit meeting at the BMA Cymru Wales office we secured a commitment from the Welsh Government and the Welsh NHS Confederation to create a “fatigue and facilities charter” that all health boards and trusts in Wales will abide by. Wales is the first UK country to agree to implement a country-wide charter that will improve the working lives of our colleagues. I hope to be able to update you on our progress on the charter early next year.
This year also saw us hosting the first ever Welsh consultants conference. The conference was attended by over 90 consultants who were able to question Vaughan Gething and debate issues including the sustainability of the NHS; recruitment and retention; and medical engagement. We also held a series of “SAS listening exercises” in hospitals throughout Wales which gave SAS doctors the opportunity to raise concerns directly with us.
For GPs we have delivered significant improvements to the GMS contract and secured an agreement from Vaughan Gething that state-backed indemnity for GPs will be introduced next year.
Although this year has seen some progress in the right direction, workforce shortages have meant that some of us have been unable to take the annual leave we need to give our patients the best possible care; others have needed help when returning from sick leave and SAS and Consultant colleagues have experienced significant difficulty when putting together job plans with their employer (Our new app Dr Diary can also help you with that going forward). Our staff at BMA Cymru Wales and your LNCs are here to support you. I’d like to thank our expert member relations team in Wales which has supported over 350 members and maintained satisfaction ratings above 96%.
The year ahead
The year ahead will not be without its challenges. We know that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is increasingly likely and that it will have implications on our access to medicines and staff and potentially European colleagues’ access to NHS treatment. We are and will continue to raise your concerns – as voiced at our Annual Representative Meeting – with health boards and the highest levels of government.
Everybody deserves to work in a safe environment. Next year we will be taking forward our work on the ‘freedom to speak up’, safe staffing levels and the unintended consequences of the locum cap on those sustaining the service. We will also be maintaining the pressure on improving medical engagement – ensuring that Health Board and Trust executives are more visible and truly willing to listen and act on the expert views of the profession.
As well as what I’ve outlined above, we will also be joining our trade union colleagues on the Welsh Partnership Forum to make sure that all-Wales policies are fair and suitable for doctors.
We will also be continuing to undertake a review of the GMS contract with an aim of ensuring that general practice is sustainable for the future and holding a Welsh junior doctors conference.
This year has shown us the importance of human factors in healthcare. We all make mistakes, to err is human after all, but it is the learning culture and supportive environment that is essential to prevent scapegoating of individuals. That is why BMA Cymru Wales is hosting a masterclass on human factors in healthcare in May 2019.
If, like me, you will be working over the Christmas period – thank you. Your hard work means we continue to have an NHS. To everyone else I hope you have some well-deserved rest and enjoy your time off. Do remember, if you need extra support at this time, please access our wellbeing services.
Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year,