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Potential change for the NHS in Wales

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New care standards have been unveiled by the Welsh Government, to improve standards of care throughout the NHS. They’ve gained more urgency after care scandals were reported at the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend and Glan Clywd hospital in Rhyl.

The new, improved standards of care are collated into a Health Standards Framework, which is based around 7 quality themes. These are:

  • staying healthy
  • safe care – including a requirement that people in Wales protect themselves from known harm;
  • effective care
  • dignified care
  • timely care, which includes a commitment that people in Wales are actively involved in decisions about their care
  • individual care
  • staff and resources – oddly enough this is not a commitment to staffing levels, but that people in Wales can find information about how their NHS is resourced and make careful use of them

In the same week, a new four year plan that will move more healthcare into the community, in theory provide services closer to home, and start to integrate health and social care services has also been outlined. Our plan for a primary care service for Wales up to March 2018 sets out the following commitments. It’s difficult to see how some of these will be met within the four year timeframe:

  • healthcare will be planned and delivered locally – assessment, treatment and ongoing care will be available in or as close to people’s homes as possible with rapid and more local access to more specialist clinical advice;
  • access to services will be improved – more use of modern technology and better information, advice and assistance to support effective self care and care from a wide range of the right professionals, including pharmacists and nurses, on the same day, either face-to-face, on the phone, by e-mail, instant/video messaging;
  • quality of services will be improved – to support improved health and self care, there will be more co-production of care, more integrated teams of health and social care professionals working around the person, who are trained to provide a wider range of more personalised care, acting on feedback on patient experience and peer review;
  • equitable access – tackling the effects of poverty by planning and delivering care which is proportionate to need to reduce the gap in health outcomes – such as low birth weight and life expectancy – between the most and least deprived communities; increasing access to care in the Welsh language.

The Welsh Government believes that this ambitious policy for primary care will help to improve health within Wales while continuing to reduce the cost of the NHS.