Rota Gaps Are a Major Problem - Seriously Damaging Staff Morale; Dr Richard Lewis Explains Why Doctors Have Growing Concerns about Medical Workforce Planning in Wales

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

Rota Gaps Are a Major Problem - Seriously Damaging Staff Morale; Dr Richard Lewis Explains Why Doctors Have Growing Concerns about Medical Workforce Planning in Wales


Byline: Dr Richard Lewis

WORKFORCE planning has faced a dramatically challenging landscape in Wales and in the UK.

Changes over the last 10 years have included the introduction of the European Working Time Directive, while changes to the immigration system have had a significant impact on the medical workforce in Wales.

And now, not only has the financial climate been severely damaged, but the culmination of recent reforms - both here and in England - has created an unsettled period for every grade of the medical profession.

BMA Wales has serious on-going concerns regarding workforce planning, which must be addressed by the Assembly Government. Many GPs regularly raise concerns about the lack of workforce planning - detailed data on the GP workforce is severely lacking and requires urgent action to reverse this discrepancy.

With a stated policy focus of moving care into the community, decision-makers must ensure robust workforce plans are in place and existing providers are equipped to support such a move.

Likewise, the secondary care sector in Wales appears focused on short-term rather than long-term planning.

Rota gaps are a major problem - many rotas may appear compliant on paper but are not in practice and are not actually deliverable. This situation is very damaging to workforce morale.

Similarly, the issue of vacancies is a significant concern for BMA Wales and our members.

There are currently close to 400 medical vacancies across NHS Wales (not including GPs) and we have heard numerous reports that when vacancies arise they are not being advertised and services are running at dangerously low capacity levels.

This situation cannot continue.

Patient safety must be a priority.

Public health doctors, who work to assess trends in health and disease and the needs of the Welsh population and advise on measures to improve population health, have seen a stark reduction in their numbers. …

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