Key role for primary care in five-year plan for Wales

The Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths has laid out her five-year vision for the future of the NHS in Wales.

‘Together for health’ sets out how the NHS will look in five years’ time, with primary and community services playing a major role.

The document focused on providing care to patients at home, rather than in a hospital setting. 

Ms Griffiths pledged that all district general hospitals across Wales would retain an essential role but that in the future fewer people will need to go into hospitals. District hospitals will become ‘centres of excellence’ supported by clinical networks. These networks would comprise primary and community service staff would be set up to care for patients discharged from hospital.

In order to provide better care outside of the hospital GP teams that share specialist support will be created to care for patients at home.

Greater use of telemedicine will also be essential to increase 24/7 access to services in rural areas, the document said.

A survey carried out by the Welsh NHS Confederation of over 1,000 people in Wales found that the majority agreed with the proposed reforms.

Around 75% of respondents supported the statement that ‘more can be done to care for people at home and prevent them from having to go to hospital in the first place’.

Helen Birtwhistle, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said: ‘The fact that people recognise the value of care closer to home and in local communities seems to reinforce the move to find new and innovative ways to provide health services away from hospitals, where that is appropriate.’

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