(Title Image: © John Haynes and licenced for reuse under Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-2.0)
Keeping track of the NHS workforce
Dr Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West) referred to the findings of his committee’s recent report on district nursing, namely a lack of data on the number of nurses or their skill mix which will impact workforce planning. How can the Welsh Government plan to move more healthcare services into the community when they don’t even know who’s working there at the moment?
In a bit of a roundabout answer, the Health Minister told him there was “no blank sheet of paper” on the current workforce or rates of demand for community services, but only those community health projects which can be scaled up will be picked for additional development:
“…..you have a range of different sources of intelligence on what is currently happening, and what we need to do more of in the future. But the Member will know….that he still carries on at various points as well, that this is never a static point in time. And our ability to reform as rapidly as we would like in this place often grinds up against reality.”
– Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth)
Allegations of bullying and harassment at Care Inspectorate “not dealt with properly”
Shadow Social Care Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy), raised concerns about Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), with its annual report recording a decline in inspection and regulation activity despite increasing costs. There were further worries too regarding the working environment:
“….there are serious allegations of bullying and harassment within the organisation, and intense pressure on the inspectors themselves. In fact, I know of an inspector who raised concerns, triggering a so-called investigation….it is alarming that the investigation was abandoned just because the person concerned resigned from CIW. And, technically, being as they themselves—the senior manager—said (the person resigned from) CIW and Welsh Government, the buck stops somewhere with Welsh Government.”
– Shadow Social Care Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders AM
Deputy Minister for Health & Social Care, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North), had every confidence in CIW and stressed the importance of their work. While there’s a good working relationship between CIW and the Welsh Government, they act independently. She couldn’t respond to specific allegations from anonymous sources.
Backlog of NHS estate repairs
Caroline Jones AM (BXP, South Wales West) told AMs there was a £250million backlog of maintenance works on the Welsh NHS estate deemed to pose a high risk. There was a particular problem within the ambulance service, with only a third of ambulance service buildings being “functionally suitable”. How much of the £370million allocated for capital spending in the Welsh NHS will be spent bringing building up to standard?
The Health Minister said most of the capital budget was spent on new buildings – such as the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran. Around £80million was available for health boards to carry out maintenance works. Where there are immediate issues, the Welsh Government intervenes to provide alternative facilities while health boards work to replace them – such as when a threatened roof collapse in Wrexham within the last financial year affected endoscopy services.