BMA Q and A: patient safety, morale and funding cuts


BMA Q and A: patient safety, morale and funding cuts

BMA Welsh council chair Phil Banfield answers your questions

Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford has been making much of the new ‘prudent healthcare’ agenda. What does BMA Cymru Wales think?
Philip BanfieldThere is some evidence that co-production with patients (collaboration between doctors and patients) can improve health and save money but we must be careful that this is not rationing by another name and that people who genuinely need help seek it rather than go without.

This needs cooperation and collaboration between primary and secondary care. But it will not necessarily address the fact that Wales appears to have cut too many hospital beds, and that GPs are already doing more for less.

Raising the percentage of healthcare funding to primary care from an all-time low of 8 per cent to 2010 levels of 10 per cent would be a good place to start.

You said at the BMA annual representative meeting last week that morale among frontline clinical staff was at an all-time low. What can be done to improve it?
More than 450 consultants responded to a letter from the BMA Welsh consultants committee chair Sharon Blackford, in which she sought views on proposed government cuts to the medical pay bill. They reported being disenfranchised and devalued.

The obvious solution would be to have managerial and administrative support in secondary care that carries the same aims as primary care — to help doctors to do their jobs better and not obstruct them.

BMA Cymru Wales has been working to change the culture within the Welsh NHS. What has been done so far?
Members report that they fear the consequences of highlighting safety concerns and that they also feel helpless to change what is going on around them. This is appalling and must change.

BMA Cymru Wales is to launch specific advice and help in this area.

The NHS in Wales must be open and receptive to feedback and those at the top must be prepared to listen and act on any query raised from patients, staff or relatives.

Is everything possible being done to reverse the recruitment crisis in Wales?
Medics on the frontline say staffing is at crisis level in both primary and secondary care, but the Welsh government denies this.

GP vacancies are causing practice closures and the postgraduate deanery reconfigurations will bite in north Wales first. Health boards are desperately trying to recruit a large number of staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors, but this may be too little too late. I would be delighted to be proved wrong on this.

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