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Feeling hopeful | signs of recovery | exciting times ahead

It’s been a difficult couple of months across the health service in Wales – an understatement I know. We are constantly aware of increased demand, inadequate capacity, workforce issues and pressure to reduce the backlog and expedite hospital discharges. Are there any signs of recovery?

The media can provide us with a detailed analysis of the situation, but what we need is quicker implementation of the solutions. In December, the RCP, along with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), published Rebuilding the NHS: better medical pathways for acute care and more recently, we supported the British Geriatrics Society statement, Protecting the rights of older people to health and social care. These principles apply across the UK, and we endorse their adoption wholeheartedly.

In Wales, we have been focusing on the workforce issue – highlighting how positive the SAS career can be and working to ensure that we get a funded, detailed workforce plan from the Welsh government. Having a plan will only be the start of the process to improve people’s lives, though; making sure it is a success will be a significant amount of work. We welcomed the recent announcement of the expansion in training places as a first step in improving the workforce because we desperately need more physicians. The messages have been heard, but recovery is slow.

We have also published a far-reaching report calling for investment in emergency cancer care. Dr Hilary Williams, regional adviser for southeast Wales and the Wales Cancer Network lead for acute oncology services (AOS) led on the report, which is endorsed by SAM and calls on health boards to invest in specialist staff, a multidisciplinary team approach, closer regional collaboration and a focus on reducing health inequalities. Let us know what you think!

We welcome our new Student and Foundation Doctor Network (SFDN) representative, Nile Saunders, who is a second year medical student at Swansea University. He joins Jack Jones on the SFDN who is also studying in Swansea. The contribution and opinions of our future doctors are invaluable, and I would like to thank the outgoing SFDN representative, Roshna Roy, for all her work as a member of the RCP Cymru Wales team and I wish her all the best in her medical career.

As I look ahead to sunnier days, we’re expecting exciting times for the RCP in Wales in 2023. A new vice president for Wales will be elected in April, we have several Cyswllt meetings being set up, along with two PCRP visits this year – details to follow. Our Update in medicine is already booked for 9 November 2023 in Cardiff, we will be joining Health Education and Improvement Wales on some of their hospital visits, and our SAS network will continue to meet to share ideas and expertise. It’s all go!

I meet twice monthly with our regional advisers to discuss emerging issues across Wales. If you wish to raise any points with us regarding training, education, workforce, service delivery or policy, please get in touch with our team. Do get involved with college activities – your opinions and contributions underpin everything I do as vice president, and I know they will be valued by my successor.

Recovery? Yes, I’ve spotted emerging snowdrops in my garden. There are some signs that we will get through these difficult times, but we will need to make some radical changes that cannot happen without investment. Never fear, the RCP will continue to make this case on your behalf.

Dr Olwen Williams OBE
RCP vice president for Wales
Consultant in sexual health and HIV medicine