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Royal College of Physicians publishes Ysbyty Wrexham Maelor follow-up review with recommendations

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The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published a follow-up review after its virtual visit to Wrexham Maelor Hospital in May 2021 and an initial report published in July 2021.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published a follow-up review after virtual visits to Ysbyty Wrexham Maelor. RCP Cymru Wales has worked closely with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) over the past year as the health board has developed an action plan to improve patient care and medical education across its hospitals.

The health board has committed to establishing regular communication with clinicians, evaluating how patients are moved around the hospital, and reviewing how doctors in different departments work with each other to provide patient care. Members of the executive team have met with the RCP vice president for Wales to discuss how they will address the issues highlighted in the RCP report.

In its follow-up review, the RCP has now called on BCUHB to communicate more clearly and more frequently with consultants and junior doctors, ensure that staffing numbers are increased before any new clinical sites are opened in north Wales, and address issues around the lack of occupational health support.

Dr Olwen Williams, RCP vice president for Wales said:

‘Betsi Cadwaladr UHB, like many other health boards is currently under ‘extraordinary pressure’ due to COVID-19 outbreaks, staff sickness, and delays in getting patients home. I am pleased to welcome this action plan from BCUHB. It is now crucial that the health board leadership listens to staff, takes their concerns on board and addresses these issues through genuine clinical engagement.

‘When the RCP visited Wrexham virtually in May 2021, many senior consultants felt excluded, ignored and frustrated. They told us about a perfect storm of an ageing hospital, ineffective IT systems, and chronic staff shortages. By the time we returned to speak with them again in January 2022, they had worked through a fourth wave of COVID-19 combined with the usual winter pressures: they were very tired, but still passionate about improving patient care and teaching the next generation of doctors. I am proud to call them my colleagues. Trainees in particular have taken the initiative and worked with senior consultants to make improvements.

‘The post-pandemic NHS recovery must be patient centred and clinically led: this means listening to staff, acting upon their concerns, avoiding the blame game, and crucially encouraging them to lead change. In the longer-term, we need to recruit more health and care professionals, open the medical school in north Wales as soon as possible, and place a renewed focus on staff wellbeing, flexible working and career development. The NHS in Wales must prioritise the mental health of its workforce as we begin tackling the backlog.’

Dr Nick Lyons, executive medical director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said:

'We have taken the RCP report very seriously and have developed an action plan with the physician consultant body at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. We’re making real progress in addressing the concerns raised, as acknowledged in the RCP’s follow-up review. This highlights improvements including strengthening medical leadership on site, recruiting a specific medical bed manager and reviewing the management structures for doctors working across unscheduled care.

'We're aware that workload, stress and pressures that our clinicians face have not gone away and are committed to ensuring that colleagues are supported to do their jobs to the best of their ability. We will continue to work with our clinical teams to implement the RCP's recommendations.'