Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
I am pleased to announce the publication of the National Workforce Implementation Plan for NHS Wales.
It will build on the work that is underway as part of the A Healthier Wales: Our Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care Workforce commissioned by Welsh Government from Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), in partnership with Social Care Wales, which was published in 2020.
This Plan outlines a series of immediate practical actions to address some of the key issues facing our organisations and the people in Wales who need to use our NHS services. The workforce challenges which we face are not unique to NHS Wales but are impacting our staff and their ability to care effectively for the people of Wales. It also ensures that, through the Workforce Strategy, we continue to take clear steps to develop a sustainable workforce for the future.
We want to reduce the pressure on our existing workforce by continuing our focus on investment in education and training so that we have a healthy pipeline of new recruits into the NHS in Wales. We also want to focus on retention and wellbeing, and this will be under pinned by our ambition to ethically recruit more nurses from overseas, with a recruitment drive planned for later in 2023. Last year the ‘Once for Wales’ pilot to ethically recruit nurses from overseas led to around 400 nurses joining the NHS.
There are also plans to create an “All-Wales Collaborative Bank” to enable the NHS to address short-term staffing issues and provide staff with choice and flexibility and enable them to achieve a better work life balance, while encouraging a move away from agency working. We will also be ensuring that we develop and deploy new roles to better support our professional workforce enabling them to use their professional skills for the greatest impact. HEIW is developing proposals to deploy reservists to support the regular workforce at times of extreme pressure, such as for the urgent roll-out of a national vaccination programme. The Welsh Government also plans to encourage more volunteers into the health and care system, adding to the existing network of volunteers who already give their time to deliver services.
The Plan will be overseen by a Strategic Workforce Implementation Board chaired by Judith Paget, Director General of Health and Social Care in Welsh Government and Chief Executive of NHS Wales. This Board will focus on clear delivery of priority actions and enable us to work in an agile way to address emerging workforce challenges as they develop and to harness the best ideas and implement them across Wales.
The Board will report to me with a collective view from a range of key partners including representatives from NHS employers, staff organisations and professional representatives. At a minimum, the membership of the Board will comprise of NHS Wales organisations (including HEIW and NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership), Welsh Government, professional leads, Trade Unions, Third Sector and others to ensure multi professional representation.
I will report back to members of the Senedd on progress on delivery of this plan.