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Medical engagement remains poor

'Inadequate' medical engagement persists, says BMA

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Efforts to improve medical engagement with managers of NHS organisations in Wales are still 'woefully inadequate', according to doctors’ leaders.

The BMA has criticised what it calls a failure so far to improve medical engagement levels and consultant vacancies.

Speaking yesterday at the trade union’s Welsh Consultants Conference taking place in Cardiff, the BMA said not much had improved on this issue in the past two years.

The National Medical Engagement Scale Survey carried out by the Welsh NHS Confederation is an initiative that outlines the levels of engagement between doctors and managers across NHS Wales.

A survey of consultants in Wales has revealed that more than half of respondents (53.6%) were not aware that their employer had an action plan to improve medical engagement and more than half (54%) were not aware of any actions being undertaken by their employer to improve it.

The results come almost two years after the National Medical Engagement Scale Survey revealed poor levels of medical engagement across NHS organisations in Wales. The consultants’ survey also revealed that 49.8% of respondents felt that their opinion was not asked before decisions that would affect their work were taken.

Dr Trevor Pickersgill, BMA Welsh consultants chair, said: “Almost two years down the line, employees are still not aware of a clear action plan to improve medical engagement levels. It’s woefully inadequate.

“We need to see a measurable change in the culture of the NHS in Wales, one that is able to report a valued and engaged workforce which is better for patients and that makes Wales an attractive place for doctors to work.

“Health boards must be transparent in the work they are undertaking to improve engagement levels, along with ensuring a two-way conversation takes place before important decisions affecting doctors’ work are taken.”

Pressures facing the system due to staff shortages were raised as a concern in the new survey, with 46.5% of respondents reporting they were aware of at least one consultant vacancy in their department, and 56.7% stating they were aware of at least one junior doctor vacancy.

Amongst those who reported consultant vacancies in their department, 79.6% said at least one vacancy had not been filled for more than six months (75.8% for junior doctor vacancies).

Dr Pickersgill added: “Being down by even one consultant has a significant impact on a department and its ability to deliver the best care to patients in Wales. Unfilled gaps put extra pressure on those working hard to keep the system running.

“Consultants in Wales have been clear in their message that current engagement levels are not good enough. Clear evidence on how health boards are working to improve this is needed, along with effective communication between management and those working on the ground.”

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