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The future of the health and social care workforce in Wales moves forward

22 October 2020
HEIW and Social Care Wales

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and Social Care Wales are delighted that Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Care has launched the 10-year workforce strategy, ‘A Healthier Wales: Our Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care’ today.

This ambitious strategy is essential if we are going to address our current workforce challenges. Developed jointly by HEIW and us, with substantial input from partners, it sets out the vision, ambition and approaches that put well-being at the heart of plans for the NHS and social care workforce in Wales. It reflects a core element of the Parliamentary Review and A Healthier Wales’ ‘Quadruple Aim’ to deliver an inclusive, engaged, sustainable, flexible and responsive workforce to deliver excellent health and social care services.

Dr Chris Jones, Chair at HEIW, said: “This is an ambitious strategy, but that is essential if we are going to address our current workforce challenges. We know that we need to spend more time developing sustainable solutions and building in flexibility and agility to respond to the needs of the people who use our services as well as the needs of the workforce. We had an incredible response during the development of the strategy and have listened to what people told us was important to them, as well as drawing in evidence, good practice and as much future proofing as we can do.

“COVID-19 has reinforced the need for a clear route map for workforce development and a firm mandate to focus on those things that are critical to workforce wellbeing and sustainability of service models. The workforce strategy published today will enable us to work with partners to deliver both in the short term and also over the longer term. Welsh language and inclusion will be woven into all areas of implementation and the actions proposed make us well placed to respond to some of the inequalities and issues that COVID-19 has highlighted.”

Sue Evans, our Chief Executive, continued: “The pandemic has reinforced the importance of having a workforce strategy across health and social care. It is now more relevant than ever. The challenge posed by COVID-19 has shown how essential it is for two skilled workforces – in health and social care – to work together closely for the benefit of the people of Wales. Frontline workers in the NHS have done a fantastic job in treating people more acutely affected by the virus, while the social care workforce has helped the health service function more effectively by keeping people safe at home and in their communities.

“Among the aims of the strategy are to develop a sustainable and healthy workforce and attract enough people with the right values and skills to work in health and social care. The pandemic has shown how we need to accelerate our efforts in all these areas. We particularly need to do everything we can to maintain the well-being of those working across health and social care and support them over the challenging winter months. Longer-term, this will also help give us a combined workforce across health and social care that can best serve Wales, whether in a crisis or not.”

The strategy was developed following a year-long programme that started with extensive engagement involving well over 1,000 people. That helped shape the content of a public consultation document that was released in summer 2019. During the consultation period, we continued to engage with stakeholders to draw in their views through webinars, online surveys, attending networks and meetings and speaking at conferences.

We received 200 formal responses, in addition to the feedback provided at events. In all, we estimate that around 1,900 people including staff, professional bodies and trade unions, employers, careers, patients, people who access care and support, third sector organisations, commissioners and volunteers helped to shape this strategy, with the overwhelming majority in favour of the ambition, themes and approach proposed.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed and helped us shape the final document. We look forward to working with colleagues across NHS Wales and our partners in social care to deliver the actions within the strategy.