PLAID Cymru has put forward proposals to recruit 1,000 extra doctors because the Welsh NHS is facing a staffing crisis.
In a report by Professor Marcus Longley back in 2012 the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, like other health boards across Wales, faced particular difficulties filling posts in accident & emergency, paediatrics and mental health.
Yet a Freedom of Information request by the party last summer revealed no recent attempt had been made to attract doctors from within the EU.
The situation is equally acute among GPs. In the South Wales Valleys up to 40% of GPs may retire in the next decade without being replaced.
And overall 20 per cent of the medical and dental workforce is over 50 and expected to retire in the next decade.
Wales already has one of the worst ratios of doctors to population and in the EU only Romania and Bulgaria is worse and that is worrying.
Plaid Cymru is proposing a series of measures to tackle the recruitment crisis which threatens the NHS’s future.
One idea is paying off the debt of student doctors which would be in return for a guaranteed number of years’ service in the NHS, covering training and early employment.
This would be a win-win for students and our health service.
While some of the policies will require extra funding, some are designed to save money such as cutting down on bureaucracy and paperwork and attracting more mainstream clinical research to bring in extra income.
The consultation document includes proposals to develop an innovative NHS and a heavy emphasis on research to make Wales a more attractive place for doctors to develop their careers
There is also need to revamp training for postgraduate doctors to improve the skills that currently exists.
Doctors should be recruited from overseas as a short-term solution to specific areas where filling posts is difficult.
It was pleasing to see the demolition of the eyesore Capitol car park on Sunday as it signalled an important start in what we all hope will be the regeneration of the city centre.
The Friars Walk retail and leisure development is crucial if the recent decline of Newport is to be reversed.
It will not happen overnight with the development not due to open until the end of next year but it is a signal that things are starting to happen.
I hope we will see the day when the big retailers, such as Marks & Spencer and HMV, that have pulled out will move back into the city centre.