BMA Cymru Wales and RCN Wales gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee on an amendment to the proposed (Quality and Engagement) (Wales) Welsh Government Bill.
This Bill, currently being considered, proposes a duty on health boards to consider “quality” in the delivery of patient care. The Royal College of Nursing and BMA Cymru Wales are calling for an amendment to strengthen the Bill by including as part of the definition of ‘quality’ the need for a skilled and valued workforce.
Health bodies in Wales have not historically undertaken workforce planning as a duty. The finance and service workforce plans now used as an approach vary considerably in quality. This year three health boards were unable to submit plans at all. Although the expectations of the Welsh Government are clear in terms of content for the plans, health boards appear struggle to achieve this.
BMA Cymru Wales and RCN Wales have both suggested an amendment drawn from the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019. The Scottish Act was passed by a cross party consensus in the Scottish parliament. The policy objective of the Bill was to provide a statutory basis for the provision of appropriate staffing in health and care service settings.
Nigel Downes, Associate Director (Interim Employment Relations) RCN Wales, said: “This Bill provides an ideal opportunity for the Welsh Government to commit to a long term strategy to improve the health and social care workforce in Wales. We know there are shortages of nurses in the NHS and care homes. Health Boards are struggling to cope with staff shortages and the amendment to this bill would focus the attention to allow more robust workforce planning.”
Services provided to the public by health bodies are provided by the workforce. No health service can be provided without healthcare staff, whether health care support worker, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, biomedical scientist, occupational therapist or any other health care team member.”
Dr David Bailey, chair of the BMA’s Welsh council said: “We are pleased to be working alongside our nursing colleagues in calling for this amendment. The link between quality and staffing is clear. To provide a ‘quality’ health service you need the right staff at the right time.
“Wales is in the midst of a staffing crisis and doctors work hard, and often cover rota gaps at very short notice, to ensure patients receive the best possible care. BMA Cymru Wales believes that this Bill provides the Welsh Government with an opportunity to ensure safe medical staffing levels alongside our nursing colleagues and make Wales an even more attractive place for Wales to work.”
The Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Physicians are all supporting our call.