Bold decisions, crucial changes and courageous action is vital to health and care recovery in Wales
Bold decisions, crucial changes and courageous action is needed to ensure sustainable health and care is available for people across Wales as it recovers from the pandemic, says the Bevan Commission.
In two new papers published today (June 14 2021), Wales’ leading think tank for health and care makes it clear that we need to work together to find more radical solutions to tackle the challenges facing NHS Wales, particularly the huge rise in the number of people on hospital waiting lists.
The Commission has explored widely with others in Wales, and internationally, to find solutions to support sustainable recovery from Covid-19 and asked the public, patients and professionals the question ‘what will you do differently?’
The clear message from this work is the need to transform the way services are delivered and clarify what people can realistically expect from healthcare, encouraging them to play an increasing role in managing their own health and wellbeing.
This is an opportunity to build upon changes made during the pandemic and to reconsider what, how and where services should be provided in the future.
Bevan Commission Chair Professor Sir Mansel Aylward said, “We all have to think and do things differently. The Covid-19 crisis has been traumatic for the nation, its health and care services, and its staff. It has severely exacerbated long-standing problems with meeting demand for elective care and created substantial backlogs.
“However, it has also provided an accelerant for positive change to the way services are delivered and has demonstrated to government, the public and the service itself that the NHS is capable of achieving great things and at scale.
“That capability and self-realisation must be retained and actively nurtured with people and systems working closely together to both support and deliver transformational change in the future.”
In the paper ‘Doing Things Differently: Tackling the Backlog in the Aftermath of Covid-19’, the Commission looks in detail at the challenge of tackling the backlog of people waiting for hospital treatment.
There are now almost 560,000 waiting for treatment – this is almost one in six people in Wales – and 217,655 of those people have been waiting more than 36 weeks, a rise of 192,021 since February 2020.
The Commission proposes a number of actions to overcome this challenge including creating new ways of working, improving efficiencies and creative staffing solutions. It also recognises that this cannot be done alone. There is a need for everyone to work together, sharing responsibility for their own health and the health of the population.
It makes three core recommendations that it believes will make the biggest impact;
- Embedding technology that is easy to use into day to day health and care services to ensure it’s the default way patients and the NHS interact
- Transforming Outpatient Care to avoid unnecessary visits to hospital, improve efficiency and redesigning pathways which put patients at the centre and involves them in their own health decisions,
- Creating specialist diagnostic and elective capacity across Wales by establishing Regional Specialist Centres to ensure expertise and resources are fully maximised including use of specialist and retired staff and theatres, over extended days and weekends.
Alongside these recommendations, the Commission has outlined a number of other suggestions that will help avoid admission to hospital by providing better access to care closer to home. In the paper ‘Doing Things Differently: Supporting Service Development in the Community’ it recommends new ways of working with services and support closer to home by:
- Maximising the potential of community based Allied Health Professionals and High Street services, delivering care such as pharmacy, podiatry, ophthalmology and physiotherapy within community settings
- Transforming pre-habilitation and rehabilitation services outside of hospitals including using leisure centres, community facilities and digital support
- Establishing a national tech-enabled self-management service to help people manage and remotely monitor their own health and wellbeing.
These recommendations support Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan and National Clinical Framework.
Bevan Commission Director Helen Howson said, “The challenge to secure a sustainable recovery from Covid is huge, but so are the opportunities. The Bevan Commission papers identify a number of different ways of working to improve efficiency and use all skills and resources to best effect, but this will not happen without the will of people, both professionals and the public. We are all in this together and we must work together to find solutions’’.
The two full papers are available online: