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NHS officials head to Spain to find much-needed doctors

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 12, 2012

By Paul Lewis

Ronnie Job

Swansea Trades Council spokesman Ronnie Job

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PATIENTS in hospital could soon be saying buenos dias to newly-recruited doctors.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board officials have flown to Spain to try to sign up doctors to help ease chronic shortages in critical areas.

The board revealed its latest recruitment drive in response to claims that it was planning to make cuts.

ABMU is holding a series of drop-in events relating to its Changing For The Better, or C4B, programme.

The next takes place in Swansea's Grand Theatre tomorrow from 11am to 7pm.

But Swansea Trades Council will be lobbying the event from 6pm, describing the potential changes as cuts.

Its spokesman Ronnie Job said: "This is incredibly important. Changes that are made in the next few months will impact on the health of everyone for a long time.

"Cuts have to be challenged if we are to have any chance of defeating the cuts."

Mr Job said ABMU and the other six health boards in Wales had to find nearly £300 million of savings. This was on top of similar savings identified the previous year. "These cuts have led to shortages of doctors and other staff, jeopardised the quality and safety of healthcare and threaten the sustainability of services.

"But ABMU's proposal to accept these cuts and further reduce local services is not the answer," said Mr Job. "It will make matters worse by limiting accessibility to healthcare for the poor, those without transport and even whole communities."

An ABMU spokeswoman said the ideas for change were not about cuts but possible ways forward to make services safer and more reliable.

"Like everyone else in the current economic climate, ABMU faces financial challenges. But money is not the only issue and some of the possible changes may cost more to deliver.

"One of the big issues driving this is the chronic UK-wide shortage of doctors, particularly in some services.

"ABMU is doing all it can to recruit more doctors, and we are currently trying to recruit in Spain, carrying out interviews for doctors in acute medicine, paediatrics, A&E, anaesthetics and psychiatry.

"This follows an earlier recruitment drive we carried out in Dubai."

She added the board would be delighted to see as many people as possible at tomorrow's event, where staff would be available for face-to-face chats.

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 14 2012, 12:31PM

    To JayneDoe - Overseas recruitment is not a move taken lightly, and it's certainly not a holiday for those involved. Unfortunately we have had no choice but to invest in this to try and attract more doctors to ensure safe services. I'm sure we would attract just as much criticism if we didn't try everything possible to fill medical vacancies. To answer WilliamWaun - orthopaedic surgery is actually being expanded at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. It is to be the ABM centre of excellence for foot, ankle, upper limb and specialist knee surgery. It will treat patients from Swansea and Bridgend, as well as Neath Port Talbot. Here are some other investments: work on the new NHS IVF facility is well underway and the service is scheduled to start in 2013 • work has also started on a purpose-built investigation, treatment and diagnostic unit for Urology patients, who suffer from illnesses like bladder cancer and urinary conditions • the hospital is scheduled to become a centre of excellence for endoscopy services – where 'magic eyes' are used for patients with stomach or bowel conditions • consolidating Elderly Mentally Ill assessment services at Neath Port Talbot Hospital into a modern, purpose built facility with single en-suite rooms. In addition there are a number of potential new services earmarked at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. These include: •Gastroenterology – there is significant opportunity to develop Neath Port Talbot Hospital as a base for specialist outpatients and diagnostic gastroenterology services •Intensive rehabilitation – the hospital already accommodates the neuro-rehabilitation unit and now other specialist and intensive rehabilitation services could go there; helping to provide a seven-day service •Rheumatology – options are being considered to provide a single-site therapy and infusion unit for ABMU at the hospital •Centralising ABMU breast surgery at Neath Port Talbot So I hope this assures you that the hospital is very much open and continues to play a very important role. To answer Stork: The Welsh Government is aware of the doctor shortage and has a national campaign to attract more to Wales, called Medical Careers Wales. Here's a link to its website if you want to find out more: http://tinyurl.com/csl63qd

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  • williamwaun  |  November 13 2012, 9:41PM

    I was in Port Talbot hospital last week visiting a close friend. By the way its a great hospital and the nurses are the best. The nurses said they don't know what's happening to their jobs, they no longer do operations for people wanting new hips. Neath general hospital closed down and it was transferred to the new hospital, now they are slowly closing wards and bringing in people from nursing homes. ABM and the Welsh Assembly should be ashamed of themselves, but they are not because they get good money and are not worried about the people of neath port talbot and the valleys. I have paid my national insurance all my life and the hospitals in Wales are getting worst, god help the people of Wales.And look what the Assembly have done in North Wales tried to cover up the state of hospitals there.

  • JayneDoe  |  November 13 2012, 7:27PM

    Hey can I get in on this gig! Trips to Dubai and Spain ,,, fantastic! Prior warning of shortage of medics over a year ago obviously was not worded correctly. Lets try ... "we're all going on a summer holiday, doing thing we've always wanted to, never mind about the medic crisis, lets ignore it for a year or two, and make our dreams come true, we can see spain too oo oo." Our National Insurance and Tax Money spent really well. Lets hope they get a lovely tan.

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  • Stork  |  November 13 2012, 4:12PM

    ABM_Health Ok, in view of the fact that you had advance warning of a Doctor shortage. When you asked the Welsh Health Minister to liaise with the English Health Minister, to arrange for more student Doctors to be admitted to UK medical schools, thus reducing what seems to be UK wide Doctor shortage. What was the Welsh Health Minister's reply ? Has anything been done ? You have asked her, haven't you ? After all, Health Authorities are the major consumer of Doctors. You have all these "planners" onboard, didn't they spot anything on the horizon regarding Doctor shortages. We've been reading about Doctor shortages for years. You have a problem you can't solve, and are just now sticking your finger into the Dam.

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 13 2012, 1:58PM

    confused 67 - there are many reasons for the doctor shortage. Here's the link to our webpage which explains it in depth. I hope you find it useful: http://tinyurl.com/ch7fuss

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 13 2012, 1:55PM

    byStork - I wasn't aware you had asked a question in your post that you wanted us to answer. Just for clarity, medical Schools are not run by health boards; they are run by universities. If you are asking for more information about doctor shortages, you can find plenty of information about this on our website: http://tinyurl.com/ch7fuss

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  • Stork  |  November 13 2012, 1:45PM

    ABM_Health I'd like you to answer my Monday 12.38 post, please.

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  • confused67  |  November 13 2012, 1:42PM

    Now I am confused, we are downgrading or closing A&E's, where have these Doctors gone. How many Doctors qualify from College in Wales every year. When we train doctors, they should work in Wales for at least five years to give something back.

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  • ABM_Health  |  November 13 2012, 1:03PM

    To answer confused67 - we are having to recruit abroad because we cannot find all the doctors we need in the UK. There is a UK-wide shortage of some doctors; in particular A&E and Paediatrics are two of the worst, but there are other specialties which have shortages as well. Williamwaun - Neath Port Talbot Hospital isn't closed!

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  • JerryLew  |  November 13 2012, 12:11AM

    2011 Referendum - 63% voted for these changes with 37% against. – this was based on a 37% turnout! Pathetic. Thats a 23% "majority". Yes we can say that if you do not vote you can not have a voice – but then again does the lack of interest not count? No referendum with under a 50% turnout has any credibility. Actually it should be higher than this to mean anything. Anyway has the time taken to pass this Royal Assent created extra jobs? – NO. Has this created extra inward investment? – NO. What positive financial benefit has it made to Wales? On another topic re the doctors – lets hope the people involved used Cardiff Airport to get to Spain and Dubai – bet they went via Bristol!!

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