The challenges of the Minister of Health
Our health correspondent, Mark Smith, discussed the main issues facing the Minister of Health over the next five years.
1. Reduce the backlog of the NHS waiting list
The latest figures show that more than half a million (549,353) people were awaiting treatment or surgery in February 2021, a 19% increase from 12 months earlier.
Even more worrying is the number of patients waiting more than nine months (36 weeks) to be seen, which now stands at nearly 218,000. This is about eight times higher than at the same time last year.
2. Increase NHS staffing levels
The endowment cannot be paid overnight. It takes 10 years to train a doctor and a minimum of three years to become a registered nurse.
3. Improve mental health services for NHS staff and patients
4. Pursue the recovery after the pandemic and fight against the “long Covid”
The Covid is not over, and the vaccination effort continues, and will be for a long time to come.
5. Reduce health inequalities between rich and poor
This pandemic has further highlighted the deep-rooted health inequalities in Wales.
Most deprived areas, such as the South Wales valleys, have been hit hardest in the past 12 months, with local authorities like Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf recording one of the per capita death rates the highest in the UK.
6. Offer NHS and social service staff a pay rise
The Welsh government has not set an arbitrary pay cap. However, the results of an independent review body examining the compensation of NHS employees in Wales may determine the extent of the wage increase in Wales.
7. Tackle overspending on health boards
Even before the pandemic hit, Wales’ health boards were struggling to balance their budgets.