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Royal College of Physicians publishes Swansea Bay report with recommendations

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The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published a report after its virtual visit to Swansea Bay University Health Board in November 2021.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published a new report following a virtual visit to Singleton and Morriston Hospitals.

Swansea Bay University Health Board (SCUHB) is planning a large-scale reorganisation of hospital services starting later this year. However, senior doctors, while broadly supportive of the proposals, have highlighted that workforce shortages and a lack of beds could cause serious problems if not addressed.

With unscheduled and acute care centralised at Morriston Hospital under these plans, the number of patients presenting at the front door is likely to increase substantially, and without more staff recruited to provide frontline care, patient safety and staff morale could suffer.

During the college visit, junior doctor feedback was very positive. They felt supported by their senior colleagues and said they would choose to return to SBUHB to work as consultants. However, they also warned that an extremely heavy workload meant that it was almost impossible to get to outpatient clinics which is a vital part of the learning experience for doctors-in-training.

While consultant physicians felt there was a sense of team spirit across the health board, they cautioned that there needs to be a careful transition as the health board moves forward with plans to centralise acute care, and there should not be an overnight switch to the new structures.

The RCP has recommended that the health board should set out a publicly available and co-produced workforce plan alongside a local recruitment and retention strategy.

The RCP has also called for:

  • more clinical involvement in high-level decision-making
  • investment in developing the careers of physician associates and specialty (SAS) doctors
  • substantial recruitment into the medical specialties before any major reorganisation goes ahead
  • more support and protected time for junior doctors to access learning and teaching opportunities.