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A positive career choice: 6 months on

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RCP Cymru Wales launches a new briefing paper calling on NHS Wales health boards to invest in staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors.  

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has today launched A positive career choice: 6 months on, which sets out recommendations to NHS Wales health boards on developing and recognising the skills, expertise and contribution of staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors in Wales.

New figures from the Welsh government show that NHS Wales agency spend on its workforce has increased by over a third (36%) in a year. Chronic and serious staffing shortages across the NHS mean that health boards are spending more than £260 million a year on filling workforce gaps.

The costs, published in the answer to a written question from Samuel Kurtz MS to the minister for health and social services, show that the biggest issue facing the NHS is still the lack of staff to assess, treat and care for patients across both health and social care.

Dr Olwen Williams, RCP vice president for Wales said:

‘Without root-and-branch reform of social care and a new approach to long-term workforce planning across the whole sector, slowly but surely, the system will continue to collapse in on itself.

‘Staffing shortages are the biggest challenge we face right now. No amount of financial investment in the NHS can make up for the fact that we simply don’t have enough doctors, nurses and social care workers to keep up with patient demand. We are expecting a funded, detailed workforce plan from the Welsh government in the coming weeks, and we are keen to work with our colleagues across government and the NHS to make sure it improves staff wellbeing.

‘Many doctors in the Welsh NHS want to work more flexibly, with increased control over their own hours and work–life balance and the ability to choose where they live and what they do at work. And why not? Rates of burnout and exhaustion are at a record high among NHS staff. Giving people more autonomy about where, how and when they work could stop people from leaving the health and care sector entirely. Supporting SAS doctors should be an important part of how we do this.’