Evidence suggests that the Welsh NHS must make radical changes as the country deals with shifting and increasing demand.
This is the opinion of the new boss that represents health boards in the country.
Vanessa Young, director of the NHS Confederation in Wales, wants a “shift in focus” with resources moving from hospitals to the community.
Young took up her post on Monday, at the body which represents the seven health boards in Wales.
In particular, Young belief that shortages of staff must be addressed.
The director believes that the Welsh government should take a long-term view on the subject, and has requested a 10-year vision to be outlined and implemented.
Young also asserts that Wales must deal with an increasingly greying population.
The number of over-65s in Wales will increase by 50% in the next 20 years.
In this context, the director of the NHS Confederation in Wales believes that the public should be made fully aware of what lies ahead, although personal responsibility should also be considered important.
“The debate needs to involve patients and the public. It’s very much about engaging the public in understanding the scale of the challenge and the health needs of the population. It’s about having that debate publicly about what changes are needed – it’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” Young commented.
Several organisations in North Wales have been under particular scrutiny due to organisational and financial concerns.
Meanwhile, controversial plans to change the way maternity services were delivered across the region were abandoned following a public outcry.
Despite the problems in healthcare in Wales, Dr Phil White, of the British Medical Association, was keen to point out some of the positives.
“All the uncertainty and the bad press has probably adversely affected recruitment within the hospital sector and primary care. It’s about time we undid some of these myths and say north Wales is a wonderful place to work, a wonderful environment and should be actively promoted as a place to come and work.”
The various parties in the Welsh assembly have made different promises about the future of healthcare in Wales.
Labour has pledged extra resources and support in order to deliver high-quality services in North Wales in particular.
While the Liberal Democrats pledges an access to GP scheme, owing to their assertion that “people here are absolutely fed up of finding it a real struggle to make an appointment and access their GP in North Wales”.
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru has indicated that it would take the somewhat radical move of scrapping Betsi Cadwaladr health board, and replacing it with a Community NHS.
Pledges from the Welsh Nationalist party include an accident and emergency culture to be led by consultants within one hour’s travel of their local communities, while a cancer diagnostic centre would also be opened in North Wales.