“Introduce Welsh work permits to protect NHS staff” – Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun Ap Iorwerth will today outline the reasons why Wales should have the power to issue work permits for people to come to work in the NHS.

Speaking ahead of an Assembly debate, the Party of Wales cited increasing concerns amongst NHS workers that the UK’s toxic rhetoric towards foreign born staff was undermining morale, efforts at recruitment of hard to fill vacancies, and putting the ability of the NHS to deliver safe services at risk. It is thus essential – the party argues – that the Welsh Government should have the power to be able to issue work permits for appropriately qualified staff to work in Wales in the NHS.

Wales has one of the lowest doctors to population rations in Europe, despite having a population with substantial health needs. Currently just under a third of all doctors working in Wales were trained abroad, and without them services would collapse.

Plaid Cymru fears that the specific challenges facing Wales including rurality will not be accounted for by the UK government making decisions on the workforce needed for other parts of the UK. It is thus calling for decision making to be made in Cardiff.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun Ap Iorwerth said:

“Plaid Cymru has long supported expanding our training capacity for the next generation of home-grown Welsh doctors so we can secure an NHS for all. But it takes a minimum of 10 years to train a doctor. The NHS has always recruited doctors from other countries to fill our rotas, and currently the service would collapse without it.

“If we are unable to allow doctors from abroad to take up vacancies in the NHS, which is likely if we leave the Tories in charge of deciding who we can have working in Wales, it will be the patients who suffer.

“Retiring doctors won’t be replaced, vacancies won’t be filled and the quality of our medical education will suffer because the top lecturers won’t be able to work in our medical schools.

“The result will be far fewer A+E departments, longer waiting lists, and many areas will be left without a GP surgery.

“All we are asking is that the Welsh Government is able to plan the future needs of the Welsh NHS properly by having the ability to issue work permits for Doctors and other NHS staff when a service is at risk from staff shortages.

“It would be naïve and irresponsible to leave our health service’s future in the hands of a UK government that is putting ideology before the needs of the people.”