Two years on, medical engagement in Wales continues to be ‘woefully inadequate’

Plans to improve medical engagement in Wales have been branded “woefully inadequate” by the consultants leader.

Doctor leaders will express their frustrations at failures to improve medical engagement levels and consultant vacancies at the Welsh Consultants Conference today.

According to a survey of consultants in Wales, over half of respondents were not aware that their employer has an action plan to improve medical engagement or of any actions that their employer is taking to improve it.

Half of respondents also felt that their opinion is not sought before decisions that affect their work are taken.

These results come almost two years after the National Medical Engagement Scale survey revealed poor levels of medical engagement across NHS organisations in Wales.

BMA Welsh consultants chair, Dr. Trevor Pickersgill, said: “Almost two years down the line, employees are still not aware of a clear action plan to improve medical engagement levels. It’s woefully inadequate.”

He explained that there needs to be a measurable change in the culture of the NHS in Wales, arguing that a valued and engaged workforce is better for patients, as well as making the country a more attractive place for doctors to work.

Pickersgill added that in order for confidence to be restored amongst the NHS workforce, health boards must be transparent in their work to improve engagement levels and ensure a two-way conversation before making important decisions that affect doctors’ work.

Increased pressures on the system due to staff shortages were also raise as a concern, with almost half of respondents reporting at least one consultant vacancy in their department and over half reporting at least one junior doctor vacancy.

Over three-quarters of those who reported a vacancy said that that at least one had not been filled for over six months.

Pickersgill argued that even one unfilled consultant post has a “significant effect” on a department and its ability to deliver care to patients, and puts pressure on those working to keep the system running.

“Consultants in Wales have been clear in their message that current engagement levels are not good enough,” he concluded. “Clear evidence on how health boards are working to improve this is needed, along with effective communication between management and those working on the ground.

“This will go some way to improving the culture in the Welsh NHS and improving staff morale.”

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