New Welsh workforce body could tackle GP practice crisis

A new medical workforce planning body for Wales could help stem the number of practices forced to hand back their contracts, doctors' leaders have said.

The Welsh government announced the formation of Health Education Wales on Friday to oversee workforce planning for the NHS.

HEW, which will launch in April 2017, will be run by an independent body and is the culmination of the Professionals Education Investment review led by Mel Evans to examine investment in health education. The 2015 review recommended a single body for workforce planning, development and commissioning of education and training.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘The workforce is the beating heart of the NHS in Wales. The new body I’ve announced today will create an environment in Wales which builds a culture that supports learning in the working environment, attracting and retaining the best people possible, on a cross Wales basis.

GP workforce

‘I am confident this is the right approach for Wales and I now intend to put arrangements in place to enable Health Education Wales to be delivered.’

The BMA welcomed the move. Welsh council chair Dr Phil Banfield said: ‘BMA Cymru Wales welcomes the renewed focus on workforce planning, workforce design and education commissioning.

‘The capacity of the current workforce is failing to keep pace with increasing demand. We have witnessed a growing number of GP practices handing back their keys to health boards as they are unable to recruit, an increase in the use of locum doctors in primary and secondary care, as well as increasing overtime costs being reported by health boards amongst medical staff. Attention clearly needs to be given to recruitment and retention of the medical workforce to alleviate these pressures.

‘We look forward to working with Health Education Wales to ensure that Wales is equipped with the appropriate number of medical staff to deliver high quality care for patients.’

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