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Calls for urgent action to attract new doctors after UK Government announces five new medical schools

The Welsh Labour Government has been urged to take urgent action to recruit and attract new doctors. It comes as the UK Government announced the creation of five new medical schools in parts of England where recruitment has been particularly difficult.

The new schools will be built in Sunderland, Lancashire, Lincoln, Canterbury and Chelmsford over the next three years. In addition, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has committed UK Government funding for 1,500 additional medical training places, with 630 being made available to new starters in September 2018.

Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns, said the Welsh Government was “behind the curve” once again, and warned that Welsh students would be attracted to England without a competitive offer from the Welsh Government.

In 2016/17, NHS Wales spent £164 million on agency and locum staff – around £13.6 million per month. This was an increase of 21.5% on the previous year, highlighting the scale of the challenge facing Welsh NHS managers.

There are currently 80 consultant vacancies and 175 trainee/junior doctors posts across Welsh Health Boards.

Shadow Health Secretary – Angela Burns, said:

“The Welsh NHS is facing a crisis in recruitment, and Health Boards are simply unable to fill the vacancies created by an exodus of skilled staff.

“As a result, tens of millions of pounds are being wasted on agency and locum staff, doing nothing to address the underlying issue.

“In England, we’ve seen decisive action – but as usual the Welsh Government is behind the curve – and without measures at this end of the M4, we’re going to see even more Welsh students heading over the border.

“This problem is being felt right across the country, but in parts of north and west Wales, the system is at breaking point.  

“We need a pro-active approach from the Welsh Government to address growing pressures on the frontline, and that must include measures to improve recruitment and retention in challenging sports in the country.”