On 31 January the Welsh Government laid out its National Workforce Implementation Plan, which aims to address NHS Wales workforce challenges. The plan includes immediate actions to address the current pressures within the NHS, such as:
- Ethically recruiting more nurses from overseas, with a recruitment drive planned for later in 2023
- Plans for creating an ‘All-Wales Collaborative Bank’ to enable the NHS to address short-term staffing issues and provide staff with choice and flexibility, while encouraging a move away from agency working
- Encourage more volunteers into the health and care system, adding to the existing network of people who give their time to help others.
In response to the plan, RCPCH Officer for Workforce Planning Dr Kay Tyerman said:
We’re very pleased to see a workforce implementation plan at last. We have routinely called for much needed action in this area, alongside other royal colleges, and professional bodies. The focus on holistic care, upskilling and having a digitally equipped workforce is a very welcome development. However, we were disappointed with the apparent lack of focus on children and young people and the child health workforce in these plans. The College strongly believes that children’s health – so often forgotten by policymakers despite the very different needs of this group – must be at the heart of government policy making.
Since the pandemic, our workforce have been under real pressure, and this Winter has been one of the most gruelling. It’s a relief to see that the Welsh Government has recognised these current pressures, is taking steps to address the NHS workforce challenges and has set out a number of important steps for the short term. But we cannot forget the impact these pressures are having on children and their health outcomes.
Previous Welsh Government and Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) documents, including A Healthier Wales and Our programme for transforming and modernising planned care and reducing waiting lists in Wales identify children and young people as priority areas. It’s therefore crucial for the Welsh Government to hear directly from children and young people and from paediatricians and others who deliver children’s services.
Given the short-term focus of this plan, it remains essential to build a multi-year, evidence-based plan, backed up by real investment that wholly escalates the number of paediatricians and child health workforce. The present levels of workforce, however capable and willing, cannot continuously meet the ever-rising demand. It is now more important than ever that the Welsh government works closely with NHS Wales and royal colleges to ensure that this is delivered as quickly as possible.