Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
I would like to update Assembly Members on developments and innovations coming to primary care in Wales.
A Healthier Wales sets out our vision for health care services and the Primary Care Model for Wales is instrumental to delivering our aims for general practice. I am committed to the Partnership model of general practice – the intelligence that informs our understanding of workforce demographics and supports the sustainability of general practice is key.
On February 14 I agreed funding to support the introduction of the Wales National Workforce Reporting System (WNWRS) along with a range of primary care workforce sustainability tools and further proposals to establish an All Wales Locum Register for locum GPs.
The WNWRS provides a secure web based tool developed to capture all practice staff information for General Practices. This Tool is already used by practices in England supported by NHS Digital. In Wales, NHS Wales Shared Service Partnership (NWSSP) has been engaged by the Welsh Government to procure and implement the WNWRS.
The WNWRS will replace the current method of reporting such data in Wales with a more efficient and consistent approach, mitigating the risk of data variations and providing more reliable data. This will help us to better understand the primary care workforce demographic in Wales and so undertake more effective workforce planning.
Additionally the WNWRS will provide the necessary identification of all GPs and health professionals employed in GP practices to be covered by the state backed indemnity scheme.
It is encouraging, that whilst the number of our GP practitioners in Wales has remained largely stable in recent years, there are indications that the number of doctors recruited in 2019 to begin their GP speciality training in Wales is likely to be the highest ever. I will make a further statement about this in April. Whilst this is positive it is noted that the number of GP locums has increased year on year since data for locums was first available. We need to better understand this primary care workforce demographic in Wales to inform more effective workforce planning.
I am introducing a new innovation in Wales – the All Wales Locum Register. This will enable a greater understanding of the needs and support that the locum market provide to general practice – providing the intelligence for us to respond appropriately.
I have continued to make clear my commitment to the Partnership model of general practice and how we strengthen its contribution to the delivery of health care closer to home. Recognising that the use of temporary staffing capacity will always be an essential component of the primary care workforce, to cover for unexpected events such as sickness absence and planned events such as annual leave or maternity cover – the introduction of the All Wales Locum Register is a pivotal step to structure the provision of sessional work to support our GP partners working in Wales.
In order to access the state-backed indemnity scheme which will indemnify individuals against claims arising from clinical negligence for NHS work locum GPs will have to enter onto the All Wales Locum Register.
In the first three months of the operation of the All Wales Locum Register we will be working with our stakeholders to determine the Terms of Engagement. Over time we plan to work with locums on the All Wales Locum Register to develop an offer to support their wider career aspirations and development needs.