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New Welsh workforce plan reinstates leadership development programme

by Beth Gault
6 February 2023

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The Welsh Government has unveiled its plan to try and address workforce challenges within the NHS, including reinstating a leadership programme for GPs.

The National Workforce Implementation Plan, which was published last Friday (3 February), set out to look at ‘innovative approaches’ to the NHS’s way of working in Wales and to create a more sustainable workforce after facing ‘significant additional demands’.

It aims to do this through three areas: filling the workforce gaps; retaining the workforce and planning for the future.

One of its policies under the retention category is to reintroduce the RCGP Leadership Programme, which was initially invested in by the Welsh Government in 2011 but was paused because of the Covid pandemic.

This programme, which will be reinstated from 2023, provides the opportunity for GPs to develop their clinical leadership skills.

The document said: ‘It will be critical to equip all our line managers with the skills and capabilities, plus a range of tools and techniques to support the development of leadership at all levels.

‘We will need to ensure that all our line management approaches support the wellbeing of our workforce and embed the practice of compassionate leadership in a tangible way that makes a difference to our workforce day to day.’

It added: ‘We will also develop and support line managers and the wider workforce across the professions to build skills and capabilities and take a proactive and preventative approach to issues that arise in the workplace.’

The government document also said the remit for a full primary care workforce plan was currently being agreed, with ambitions for a strategy to be completed during 2023/24. This will be adapted from the UK Government’s long-term strategic workforce planning framework due out this year.

Other measures set out in the document, included:

  • By July this year, the Welsh Government will commission work to develop new flexible employment and contract options that ‘better suit’ those who work in the primary and community sectors
  • Also by July, Welsh Government will work with partners to standardise additional hours pay rates for both secondary care and primary care to ensure they are attractive to the workforce and sustainable to the organisations.

However, RCGP Cymru Wales has said the plan ‘falls short’ of setting clear targets for expanding the workforce.

A spokesperson said: ‘Pre-pandemic Wales was served by 404 GP surgeries, there are now 18 fewer.

‘We can see a worrying pattern with there being 49 less FTE GPs in Wales in June ’22 than was the case just six months earlier. That is a deeply worrying trajectory. An RCGP survey of members last year found that 33% of GPs did not expect to still be in the profession in five years’ time. The alarm bells have long been ringing.

‘A robust and deliverable workforce plan is essential. We have had some initial constructive discussions and we look forward to the forthcoming Primary Care Plan. We hope this will deliver a specific recruitment and retention strategy for GPs including recognising much-needed investment in the primary care estate to allow sufficient space to train the next generation of GPs.’