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Written Statement - Publication of the Health Professional Education Investment Review

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

Good health education and training is essential to maintain and improve the standards of service provided to patients across Wales. Sustainable healthcare requires a  workforce which is highly skilled, flexible and agile enough to respond to the many challenges the NHS faces.  At the same time it must also remain rooted in the traditions of the NHS - compassion, patient centred, free at the point of delivery and universally available.
The Welsh Government invests more than £350m each year supporting 15,000+ students and trainees across Wales undertaking health-related programmes including undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing professional education.

The demands of the health care system are  constantly changing and it is important that we plan for these changes. Our aim must be to shift resources towards multi-disciplinary primary and community care teams, working closely with social care, to meet people’s needs at, or close to home. Action is being taken, and investment being made,  to rebalance the health and social care system so that it promotes self care, and further reduces unnecessary emergency admission.

It is important therefore that decisions about education and training are not focussed on maintaining the current position, but are designed to underpin the change in services required to deliver this approach. It is also important to recognise the value of cross border flows in respect of the workforce and to understand that no part of the United Kingdom can be self sufficient in this regard. There is a balance to be struck between the level of training and education we fund to grow our own in Wales and the recruitment of individuals who are already trained and have gained wider experience through a variety of employment opportunities.

Last year I commissioned a review of the current arrangements in place to support our annual investment in health professional education and training. I wanted to establish whether they represent the best value for Wales or whether changes are required. This review  was undertaken by a panel led by Mel Evans, previously Chair of Powys Teaching Health Board  He was joined by Dr David Salter, Retired former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales,  Professor Ceri Phillips, Professor of Health Economics at Swansea Centre for Health Economics and Dick Roberts CBE, Pro Chancellor at Cardiff University and former Chief Optometric Adviser for Wales.

  • The panel’s report proposes some fundamental changes including:
    the establishment of a new single organisation for Wales which brings together the strategic aspects of workforce planning, education commissioning and workforce development and design for all aspects of the NHS workforce.
  • a refreshed strategic vision for NHS Wales which provides the longer term context for shaping the workforce of the future
  • an NHS culture which demonstrably supports lifelong learning
  • a greater emphasis on community based training to support the changes required in service delivery
  • a  more cohesive programme of work experience and apprenticeships designed to provide young people with greater exposure to the opportunities that exist to participate in the delivery of health care services
  • greater opportunities for co-professional education and training together with new approaches to training within areas where are difficulties in recruiting both substantive staff and trainees.

While I welcome the report and broadly support the recommendations I want to give individuals an opportunity to comment on the panel’s report and in particular to provide feedback on a number of key areas regarding implementation.  A six week period of engagement will therefore  start today and end on 25th May 2015. The feedback received will help inform final consideration of the recommended way forward. The report and the accompanying questions can be found here.

I would encourage you to contribute your views and help to inform the shape of the future arrangements for Wales.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.