Plaid Cymru is proposing paying off the debt of student doctors as part of a package of measures to overcome the recruitment crisis threatening the future of the Welsh NHS.
The policy, which would be in return for a number of guaranteed years’ service, is part of a consultation launched by the Party of Wales which aims to tackle the recruitment crisis in the Welsh NHS by attracting 1,000 doctors.
A failure to attract doctors has been cited as a primary reason behind problems at Bronglais and other hospitals in mid-Wales.
This policy has now placed under threat the services at numerous hospitals. It is also estimated that there is a GP ‘time bomb’ in certain parts of Wales with many on the verge of retirement and a lack of new recruits ready to replace them.
During the recent Plaid Cymru conference in Aberystwyth, party leader Leanne Wood pledged to recruit an extra 1,000 doctors to Wales over two terms of a Welsh Government led by her. This recruitment drive would help offset the fact that Wales has one of the lowest levels of doctors per head of the population in the EU with only Romania and Poland worse off.
The consultation also aims to improve access to GPs in the community, tackle the lengthening waiting lists for operations and increase the capacity of the NHS to deal with an ageing population.
Elin Jones, AM for Ceredigion and Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister, said the consultation document outlines how the 1,000 doctors will be enlisted to shore up Wales' creaking NHS.
The policies contained in the consultation document are grouped into four main themes; financial incentives, creating an innovative NHS, revamping and reinvesting in training and finally, international recruitment.
Elin Jones AM said: “This is about taking a long-term approach to fixing the NHS’s recruitment problems in Wales. For decades Governments at both ends of the M4 have treated problems in our NHS with a sticking plaster.
“Unfortunately the short-termism has now come home to roost which is why we are in such a difficult position in our hospitals, in Ceredigion and elsewhere. The policies Plaid Cymru is now consulting on will look to secure firm foundations on which our NHS can survive and thrive for generations to come.”