A new group will be set up to look in depth at a recommendation to create a single body to plan and commission the education and training of healthcare professionals in Wales, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said.
The move follows the publication of the Health Professionals Education Investment (HPEI) review, which was commissioned by the Welsh Government to examine the investment in health professional education and whether it is delivering the right results for Wales and the NHS.
The review, which was led by Mel Evans OBE, recommended the creation of a single body for workforce planning, development and commissioning of education and training.
Welsh Government investment in health professional education exceeds £350m every year, supporting 15,000-plus students and trainees in Wales.
The Minister has accepted the review’s recommendations but is to set up a group, to be led by an individual supported by the Welsh Government, to look at the costs and benefits of moving to a single body before a final decision can be made. This work will take six months to complete and be supported by a stakeholder reference group.
The HPEI review also considered whether incentive-based schemes would help to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in Wales. The Health and Social Services Minister has decided investment in medical education should change so a greater share is provided to those people who commit themselves to the NHS in Wales.
Further details will be announced once the Diamond Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance is completed.
Professor Drakeford said:
“Our NHS workforce is at the heart of our health service, which is why we have continued to invest in staff – the number of people directly employed by NHS Wales now stands 84,000, an increase of a third since 1999. There are also 2,000 GPs working in Wales, which is an increase of 10.5% since 2004.
“We want to make sure Wales continues to attract and retain the best talent. I believe there is a need for change and want to properly explore the impact of creating a singe body.
“A new single set of arrangements will ensure investment and planning decisions are not taken about individual professions in isolation. Decisions about education and training must be based on the needs of patients and local populations and a rounded approach to the workforce.
“While this work takes place, I expect all organisations involved in workforce planning and education commissioning to work more strategically and collaboratively.
“We are also in the very early stages of creating new incentives for those students studying in Wales to stay here and commit to the Welsh NHS.”