RCP Cymru Wales has published a new paper, endorsed by 22 organisations that calls on the new NHS Wales Executive to work in partnership with patients and clinicians to lead change.
22 organisations have called on the Welsh government to ensure that the new NHS Wales Executive prioritises the lived experience of patients and empowers clinicians to improve care. In a new paper, Driving change together, which is endorsed by royal colleges, national charities and patient groups, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has called for a new approach to running the health service – one in which patients and health professionals sit alongside managers to make decisions together. In practice, this means the executive should:
- Share leadership responsibilities – ensure new national networks are led by clinicians working with patient representatives.
- Give everyone a voice – develop standardised co-production guidance on third sector and patient involvement in running the NHS.
- Ensure no health condition is left behind – implement consistent governance arrangements and comprehensive programme support across all networks.
- Recognise that knowledge is power – publish service specifications and local treatment pathways online in a central hub, making the patient journey easier to understand.
- Learn from Senedd committees – publish work plans and meeting papers online in an accessible, open and transparent way.
The NHS Wales Executive has been established in response to calls for a 'stronger central guiding hand' for the health service in Wales. Originally announced a year ago as a 'small, strengthened senior team within Welsh government', third sector organisations have welcomed the decision to instead establish the executive as an NHS body hosted by Public Health Wales from 1 April 2023.
These new arrangements are an opportunity to create a collaborative approach to running the NHS, where clinicians, patients and the public all have a seat at the table. New strategic clinical networks will play a role in overseeing how health boards meet the national quality statements for major health conditions, including diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart conditions, liver disease, respiratory health, women's health, critical care, neuro, renal and end of life care.
Dr Olwen Williams OBE, RCP vice president for Wales said:
'Hundreds of thousands of people need our help, but we don't have enough beds, staff or budget. Social care is in crisis. Many NHS teams are struggling to stay on top of their waiting lists and we know it's unlikely there'll be extra money anytime soon. It's obvious we need to do things differently. We've been working with colleagues across the third sector, national clinical leads and NHS Wales leadership to find a way of putting co-production principles into practice – everyone should have a genuine say in decisions made about how we run the health service.
‘Wales is a small country with a strong sense of community. People want high quality care for themselves and their family and friends, and as clinicians, we want to provide high quality care. For years, we've seen decisions about the Welsh NHS made behind closed doors, in an opaque and complicated system, with little to no transparency – it's time to let in the light and open up discussion. The new NHS Wales Executive run as a genuine partnership between clinicians, managers and the public would give us a real opportunity to improve how we look after patients.'