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Winter preparedness in Wales 2016-17

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The RCP in Wales has responded to the National Assembly for Wales Health, Social Care and Sport Committee inquiry into winter preparedness in Wales 2016-17. 

Key recommendations

The RCP has identified several key priorities for policy makers in Wales:

  • The challenges facing health boards as they prepare for winter are complex. They reflect wider pressures on the NHS and social care.
  • Health boards are operating in an under-funded, under-doctored and overstretched context. This is resulting in an increasing demand on hospitals.
  • Recent RCP research shows that 40% of advertised consultant physician vacancies in Wales were unfilled last year; in the majority of cases, this is because there are simply no applicants. This is having a significant impact on the ability of doctors to deliver high quality care for patients.
  • A stretched social care system, staffing shortages, and lack of hospital beds all contribute to delayed transfers of care.
  • The RCP, through its Future Hospital Programme and our work with hospitals in Wales, is exploring new and innovative ways of delivering care.
  • This includes better coordination of care and treatment of patients to prevent unnecessary hospital admission and to help them leave hospital as soon as possible. We are also developing telehealth projects in north Wales and encouraging partnership working between hospital and community services.