PLAID CYMRU has accused the Welsh Government of exacerbating the country’s doctor shortage after figures showed they slashed their recruitment budget.
A Freedom of Information application by Plaid Cymru has found that the Welsh Government spent just over £1,000 on recruiting doctors in the same calendar year they were planning the centralisation of key hospital services due to a shortage of doctors.
The FOI showed the Welsh Government spent just £1,115 during the 2013/14 financial year on doctor recruitment – which was a staggering 40 times less than the previous calendar year’s amount of £45,326.
The FOI also revealed that the Welsh Government only undertook one initiative to recruit doctors in a period covering more than three years up to September of this year.
Previous FOI results to local health boards have showed that few efforts to recruit from abroad have been made.
Elin Jones AM, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister, said the Welsh Government was blaming a doctor shortage for the NHS’s ills when there was little or no evidence of it acting to alleviate the problem.
The AM for Ceredigion, a constituency which has been subject to controversial centralisation plans, told The Herald: “The Welsh Government is sitting on its hands and refusing to take workforce planning seriously. These figures show they are content to throw in the towel when faced with the challenge of providing services to areas of Wales where it is difficult to recruit.
“Up to 40% of GPs in the south Wales valleys are approaching retirement and parts of rural Wales are already seeing full or partial closures of surgeries due to a GP shortage.
“This can’t-do approach is not good enough if the Labour Welsh Government is to ensure a sustainable NHS for all of Wales. They need to be much more proactive in providing the levels of staff needed to deliver essential services.
“The SNP Government has shown what can be achieved when you have an ambitious and forward-thinking administration because they have almost 50% more GPs relative to population than we have in Wales.
“The figures also pose serious question marks about the case for centralisation. This was sold on the basis that it was necessary due to a doctor shortage.
“Is that shortage really a surprise when little is being done to tackle the recruitment crisis?
“People will be asking whether the Welsh Government’s case was flawed from the very beginning in light of these figures.”