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Mood of the nation | innovation | Medicine 2023

As Dr Olwen Williams tries to forget the recent poor performance of the national men’s rugby team in the Six Nations Championship, she cheers herself up with a look ahead to Medicine 2023 and encourages NHS organisations to get involved with the Chief Registrar Programme.

There is no doubt that the success (or lack thereof) of our national sports teams has an impact on the mood of our nation! But I’m determined to not be despondent, because there is some positive news – the winter pressures are easing, further NHS strikes have been averted in Wales and the Welsh government has published its long expected national workforce implementation plan.

I am pleased to say that the RCP Cymru Wales team has had significant influence on the plan so far, but we continue to call for more detail, especially on vacancy data. We must match staffing numbers with forecasted patient demand so that we can plan for the long term, and we expect progress on this by the summer. I spoke to the BMJ earlier this month about rota gaps and the pressure on staff: we need to see some real action now to retain, recruit, redesign and retrain our workforce.

There’s lots going on! The new NHS executive for Wales – and its new strategic clinical networks – should be up and running later this year and recent developments will be discussed at the next Welsh Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Council meeting. The RCP is doing a great deal of work behind the scenes to make sure the clinical voice and lived experience are represented at the very heart of the new structures, so please do get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Our Chief Registrar Programme is now accepting expressions of interest from NHS organisations for the 2023/24 cohort. This is a fantastic leadership scheme and I’d strongly encourage you to flag this with your medical director before the 1 March deadline. You can find out more here.

Yet again, we’ve had a productive few weeks with the launch of two new reports: A positive career choice: 6 months on, which calls on NHS Wales health boards to invest in the staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctor workforce, and Cancer care at the front door: the future of acute oncology in Wales, which calls for investment in emergency cancer care at the front door. We were delighted with the media coverage we received for our messages and will continue to highlight the need for alternatives to hospital admission at the front door.

March will be another busy month, ending with our annual flagship conference Medicine 2023 – there is still time to register for the 2–day hybrid event. This year’s theme is climate change, sustainability and health, and it promises to be a fascinating programme with inspirational speakers. Public Health Wales is also organising an all-Wales summit on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on health with keynote speaker Professor Sir Michael Marmot – book your space here.

The devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria has highlighted once again how systems need to work together in the event of a health crisis. The long-term impact on people in the region will be phenomenal; 35,000 have died and 17 million are in need of shelter, food and medical aid. If you would like to donate, the DEC Earthquake Appeal is a great place to start.

I was delighted to see the work of Dr Sam Rice featured in our membership magazine, Commentary – so much excellent innovation occurs in Wales and we should be proud of the achievements of our fellows and members. In April we are visiting the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, and in May we’ll be back at the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran. I’m looking forward to hearing how colleagues there are driving change. If you would like to highlight the work of an individual or a service from your hospital, please let us know. You can read more of our blogs here.

Stay safe,

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