“Code red” risk due to doctor and nurse shortages

Plaid Cymru raises concerns as workforce shortages reported as high risk across Wales

A lack of doctors and nurses across Wales is the cause of severe risk in all seven health board areas, Plaid Cymru has today revealed.

Plaid Cymru has uncovered the risk registers of every health board in Wales – and each one states that staff shortages are a cause of high risk.

Risk registers are produced by every health board as a legal requirement, and they highlight the most significant risks to the day to day operations of a local health board. They typically use a traffic light system to categorise risks in terms of likelihood and severity.

Currently every health board has shortages of staff highlighted as a ‘red’ risk to the safety and sustainability of services.

The risk registers raise concerns over the staff’s capacity to continue to provide the most basic services including GP services.

In Cwm Taf, the health board’s risk register notes that:

“The majority of assessed risks are linked with workforce shortages and their related impact, which includes GP shortages and Primary Care Sustainability.”

These concerns are echoed in other boards. Hywel Dda health board risk register notes that:

“There is a risk that GP practices could no longer deliver some or all services to patients registered. This is caused by a shortage in clinical workforce to deliver against the current model of General Practice.”

Problems are not just confined to primary care and out of hours services, but on specific wards as well. Anuerin Bevan health board risk register notes “a particular area of concern is neonatal and paediatrics”, as well as problems with learning disability and mental health services.

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

“The risk registers make it perfectly clear that current shortages of doctors and nurses are placing patient care at risk, both in hospitals and in the community. This isn’t just confined to one or two areas either – every health board puts the risk caused by these shortages at code red.

“Plaid Cymru has warned for many years that staff shortages are going to lead to services becoming unsustainable and many experts have been saying it as well. Now the health boards have put it in black and white: the Welsh Government’s failure to train and recruit enough medical staff is putting our most fundamental NHS services at risk.

“The concerned tone conveyed in health board papers is in stark contrast to the complacency shown by the Labour Welsh Government on this matter. Whilst the health boards tell us that staff shortages have created a severe threat, the government has shelved plans to develop medical training in Bangor and have lazily told us that their recruitment campaigns are “working well”. I’m sure the health boards would say that that isn’t good enough.

“A severe threat such as this needs to be taken seriously, and the government needs to act urgently to reduce this risk. Plaid Cymru has set out a plan to train and recruit a thousand extra doctors to the NHS, and five thousand nurses. We’ve also set out plans to establish a medical school in Bangor. The government needs to implement this plan now for the sake of patients.”