Welsh health and social care review backs GP integration with new care models

The scale and pace of challenges facing the NHS in Wales mean it must rapidly move towards 'seamless whole system models of health and social care delivery' to survive, a report warns.

Dr Ruth Hussey, former chief medical officer for Wales
Dr Ruth Hussey, former chief medical officer for Wales

The interim report from an independent parliamentary review led by former chief medical officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey warns that the case for change in the Welsh NHS is 'compelling', and calls for a 'bold and unified vision for the whole health and social care system'.

The report calls for 'a limited set of new models of care [to be] developed, trialled, evaluated, and scaled up rapidly'. It calls for solutions to the workforce crisis, and new investment in infrastructure to support the NHS.

A number of existing models exist in parts of Wales and elsewhere that could be built upon, the report says. It adds: 'The next step for Wales is to identify the most promising broad models of whole health and social care services (locally and internationally) and adopt them or use their characteristics to develop a manageable set of new models of care for Wales. They should include a combination of primary care, hospital care, and community health and social care provision.'

NHS reform

The report also calls for a stronger 'guiding hand' from central government to drive the adoption of new care models, rather than leaving change entirely to local autonomy. It highlights growing pressure on primary care and other parts of the NHS.

RCGP Wales chair Dr Rebecca Payne said: 'RCGP Wales welcomes the expert panel’s announcement that health and social care services have to change. As GPs, we believe that all patients should have access to high quality care where and when they need it.

'Building on the existing strengths of general practice and developing new models of care will allow our healthcare services to adapt, meeting the changing needs of our population across rural and urban settings.

'General practice must be strengthened if more services are to be delivered within the community, closer to people’s homes. To ensure that all patients receive the care they deserve, action needs to be taken.

GP workforce

'We must make sure that we have enough GPs to meet patient need. To help tackle the GP shortage, we have been calling for the number of GP training places to be increased to 200 a year and for there to be an increase in the number of Welsh-domiciled students applying to Welsh medical schools.

'We look forward to engaging with the expert panel in the months ahead as they work to set out a bold vision for the future of our health and social care system.'

Dr Hussey said: 'By the time our final report is published at the end of the year, we aim to have a list of recommendations that command widespread support, are implementable, and give Wales the best chance of delivering the changes needed to achieve  quality driven, sustainable, whole health and social care system and services that the population rightfully expects.'

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: 'This is an insightful interim report. The panel rightly recognises the tremendous commitment of the health and care workforce, and its significant achievements.  However, the case for change in how health and care services should be organised in future could not be clearer.'

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