Local AM raises post-Brexit carer recruitment concerns

A local Assembly Member raised concerns about NHS services in the Hywel Dda area.

Speaking in the Senedd, Joyce Watson AM spoke up for patients who have had operations cancelled, requesting that these should be rearranged at the earliest opportunity.

She also asked about extra bed capacity to move people through the system faster.

Mrs Watson praised NHS staff working under difficult circumstances, saying:

“I want to thank all the staff who are working incredibly hard to give dedicated support to those who need it, and to recognise that they are completely driven to attend to the needs of their patients.”

She raised the wider issue of staffing across care services. She warned:

“The domiciliary care challenge is out there, and lots of those working in that sector feel unwelcome as a result of Brexit. So, we are now even more short-staffed than we were before.”

Responding to Mrs Watson on staffing, Health Minister Vaughan Gething shared her concerns:

“It’s a fair point that Joyce Watson makes about the reality of wanting to recruit staff and people working in both domiciliary and residential care, and we do rely on a range of people from outside the UK to do so. So, any barriers to recruiting those people, who are often under the Government’s proposed immigration cap, is a real problem for all of us in every one of the UK nations.”

He confirmed that people who have had their operations postponed by the health service will be informed of a prompt early date for that operation to be re-arranged.

He added: “I want to highlight, as the health board has done, that I’m really sorry and I understand the impact upon individuals who have been looking forward, often with a degree of anxiety, to a surgery, to then have that put off. That is not a pleasant position to go through, and yet we also know that objectively the people that are having emergency care and having cancer surgery—if we were not prioritising those people we would rightly be criticised for failing to do so across the system.”

Regarding hospital beds he said:

“We have surge capacity, so 400 extra beds right across the health and care system—beds or bed equivalents.”

He said that, to permanently increase capacity, they would have to tackle “what the Royal College of Emergency Medicine refer to as exit block” – more consultants and also investment in social care and in the social care system.

“This isn’t just a problem at the front door of the acute system in our hospitals, it’s a challenge about people being kept at home safely, but also about being able to go to their own homes with a package of care and support.”

He added that he had increased funding for social care:

“You’ll have seen in the draft budget that, yet again this year, the health budget has put a deliberate sum of money into social care. I’ve increased that sum of money within the budget. It’s also about why we put money into regional partnership boards that require health and social care to work together with other partners, and that is the system reform we need to see continuing at pace to try to make sure that we can deal with these problems as effectively and as quickly as possible, because they’re not going to disappear.”