I’d like to follow up the question that was asked by Rhun earlier, and that is: in the light of the decision in England to reject the contract by junior doctors, there could be a real impact in terms of morale in the NHS in England. I just wondered if you could tell us what you could do in addition to really attract, possibly, some of those people who are disillusioned with the system as it is being conducted in England?
Thank you for the question. As I said earlier, we do not intend to go down the route that England is going down by imposing a contract. A big reason why that contract was rejected was because doctors don’t trust the UK Government, and that’s such a damaging state of affairs. I’m pleased that we do have a relationship of trust with the British Medical Association here in Wales, and they recognise that after the vote on rejecting the junior doctors contract. So, I will be meeting them, and we will of course be making clear to junior doctors in England and any other part of the UK that they will be respected and valued if they want to live and work here in Wales. It’s not just about making the offer to people in England, but to positively say there are good reasons to come here to Wales to live and work in a system where they will be trusted and respected. We are actively listening to and engaging with doctors to understand what we need to do to improve the quality of training available. I’m actually really optimistic about this because the Royal College of General Practitioners and the BMA themselves are actively engaged in the work that we’re doing. They think that we’re on the right path and we’re doing the right things. The challenge for us is to do it at scale and at pace and deliver the sort of healthcare that we want here in Wales, and the number of doctors that we recognise we need as well.
Will the Minister provide an update on paediatric services in west Wales? OAQ(5)0034(HWS)
Thank you for the question. The recent independent review by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health stated that the changes to paediatric services in west Wales in 2014 have led to improved outcomes and better compliance with national clinical standards. We are investing in the service to secure further improvements for families in west Wales.
Cabinet Secretary, as you’ll be aware, the Hywel Dda health board is engaged with clinicians and patient groups to look at developing an enhanced patient pathway for paediatric services in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire by the end of the year. On a recent visit to Withybush and Glangwili, I was made aware of the reliance on doctors from outside the UK to ensure that we can fulfil the rotas in paediatrics in particular. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it doesn’t help to attract doctors when it’s suggested that that care that is provided is unsafe. Since the Brexit vote, Hywel Dda health board has written to non-UK medical staff in the light of an increase in race hate incidents across the UK. I’ve helped to launch a campaign to encourage patients to go that extra mile to thank those doctors who’ve come to help us in Wales to provide that service. Will you join with me in extending that welcome and ensuring that NHS services will not be adversely affected by the EU vote and that those doctors who are here to help us will indeed be made to feel welcome?
Thank you for the question. I quite agree with the points that are made. The level of intolerance that I’m sure each of us has seen within our communities, directed at public servants and people in private life as well, is something that I feel deeply ashamed and angry about, because I want our country to be a properly outward-looking, welcoming place where we value what people do and what people bring to us and our country. In particular, in the health service, we are reliant on a range of health professionals from around the world to make the service work, to deliver the quality care that we value. I really do think that the messaging the NHS is giving, and Members of the Cabinet are giving, to all parts of the service, making it clear that we welcome the fact that people are here, we want them to stay and they are welcome to stay and keep on delivering that real value to our services, is really important. We can’t say it often enough. On recruitment, I should say, I’ve met a range of doctors who have been recruited from within the EU and outside and it’s a good example of a health board that has changed its attitude in the way it talks about its services and has been more successful in selling the idea of living in west Wales as well as working there in a really successful manner. There’s a lesson there for other health boards about what they can do if there’s a level of ambition and equally if the clinical community is prepared to say, ‘We want these services to work and we want to be part of making that work and attracting more people to come to work with us as part of the healthcare team’.