February 27, 2017
On November 1st 2016 the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Health, Well-being and Sport, Vaughan Gething, announced the establishment of a Parliamentary Review which will look at the key challenges facing the health and social care services in Wales.
He said “ … (it) will review the best available evidence to identify key issues facing our health and social care services and draw out the challenges that these will present over coming years. For example, there are challenges with NHS finances within a reducing Welsh Government budget, workforce planning, recruitment and retention, and meeting the rising demands of healthcare and rising public expectations. The review will examine options for the way forward and will then make recommendations about what the health and care service of the future could look like.”
The review was initiated as part of the “Moving Wales Forward” agreement between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru underpinned by wider cross party consultation and discussion.
The current Welsh health strategy, “Together for Health “ is due for revision and the Cabinet Secretary hopes that the Parliamentary Review will be completed in time to inform its replacement. This seems sensible and should give the Review a sharp operational focus.
However such a relatively short time window may not provide sufficient opportunity for the Review to engage in the innovative thinking needed to come up with the radical proposals that an under-resourced health and social care service is likely to need just to sustain itself and survive.
The Review will be led by the former Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Ruth Hussey, supported by an an independent panel drawn for a wide range of experienced backgrounds predominantly from outside Wales. It will be supported by a stakeholder reference group made up of representatives of professional bodies and social service organisations within Wales. Faced with such an strong resource, which has attracted cross party political support, the Welsh Government might wish to consider asking the Review for a relatively early report to help with the revision of its overall strategy and then requesting it to give additional thought as to what Welsh health and social care is likely to need for the medium and longer term.