Wales politics

Doctor recruitment a 'long-term failure' says Plaid

Doctor (generic)
The challenge of recruiting sufficient doctors is central to hospital reorganisation plans

Welsh ministers have been accused of a "long term failure" to plan doctor recruitment effectively by Plaid Cymru.

The party's analysis of World Health Organization (WHO) figures claims Wales has fewer doctors per head of population than Kazakhstan and Moldova.

Plaid wants urgent action, while the British Medical Association said the situation was unacceptable.

Ministers said they were promoting the benefits of working in Wales to doctors to tackle shortages.

'Attractive'

Although Wales is not included separately in WHO figures, Plaid has taken the UK figure and analysed it with other health data for UK nations to compare with the number of doctors in other countries.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the figures "highlight the long term failure by the Welsh government to effectively plan for the recruitment of doctors".

The party's health spokesperson Elin Jones AM said "tried and tested" solutions in similar size countries included offering financial incentives to encourage graduate doctors to practice in Wales.

There could also be in the short term an increased recruitment of doctors from elsewhere in the EU.

"In the long run we would work to encourage our brightest children to study medicine, and invest in the sciences, which would also have knock-on benefits for the economy," she added.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "At 2.5% the vacancy rate for medical posts in Wales is favourable compared to other UK nations and other professions.

"That said, there is a UK-wide shortage of doctors in certain specialities which we are tackling actively through the Work for Wales campaign.

'Difficulties'

"The campaign promotes the benefits of living and working in Wales, ensuring medical students and established doctors are aware of the opportunities available to them here.

"We are not aware of any evidence in support of solutions in other countries, and do not favour financial incentives.

"Providing additional pay for just a small number of doctors could impact on morale, and in fact move the recruitment problem from one post to another."

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales said the figures came as no surprise and called it an "unacceptable state of affairs".

"The inadequate number of doctors applies to General Practitioner numbers as well as hospital doctors, said Dr Richard Lewis, the Welsh secretary of the BMA.

"We recognise the difficulties involved in attracting doctors to Wales in certain shortage specialities but that does not account for all the vacancies we see in Wales, many of which are a result of deliberate vacancy control policies by health boards.

"The difficulties in recruiting junior doctors are well known and a fresh approach in making the quality of training and experience for trainees in Wales a top priority must be pursued."

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