The Royal College of Physicians (RCP Cymru Wales) has launched its first ever Cyswllt RCP Connect event report following a virtual workshop with clinicians in south-west Wales.
As the Royal College of Physicians (RCP Cymru Wales) publishes the follow-up report to a virtual workshop with physicians across south-west Wales, doctors are calling on the Welsh NHS to focus on the positive changes that have come from the pandemic and avoid returning to old ways of working.
Most doctors want flexible working to continue after the pandemic, but NHS workforce shortages present a key barrier.
Flexible working, remote clinics and working from home are all becoming more important to NHS doctors, as expectations around work–life balance change. This has enormous implications for the medical workforce, and the Welsh government should expand training and medical school places as soon as possible to avoid staff shortages in the NHS in the coming years.
Expanding medical school places is the best long-term solution to addressing shortages in the clinician workforce.
NHS organisations across Wales need to develop workforce strategies that prioritise staff wellbeing and a high-quality work–life balance. Where staff want to work flexibly, or from home, this should be encouraged wherever possible.
During our virtual visit to Hywel Dda and Swansea Bay health boards, consultant and trainee physicians told us:
- Doctors must be given every opportunity to learn. Virtual working should ensure medical education becomes more flexible and accessible, especially in remote and rural hospitals.
- The NHS must prioritise staff wellbeing, compassionate leadership and mental health. We need to raise awareness and remove the barriers to seeking help.
- NHS health boards must share learning and experiences more effectively and work in a more united way to improve patient care across Wales.
- COVID-19 has allowed a lot of clinicians to become more involved with research and innovation. Dedicated time, regional working, formal teaching and mentoring would ensure these opportunities are accessible for all clinicians.
- Every clinician has a role to play in reducing health inequalities. The NHS should target interventions for struggling communities and improve access to healthcare for everyone.