A reshaping of the NHS in Wales has been given cautious welcome by doctors leaders, who say it is vitally important for clinicians to be engaged and involved in any transformation.
The Welsh Government has said it wants to start seeing changes to the way patients are treated and how services are run within three years, and significant change within a decade.
Its vision for the NHS in Wales is being backed by a £100m transformation fund that will be used to develop integrated services in the community with an emphasis on prevention.
Regional partnership boards made up of councils, health boards and voluntary representatives will be tasked with developing new ways of delivering care locally to integrate health and social care – with the best ideas scaled up for use across the NHS in Wales.
The aim is that people will only go to a general hospital when it is essential.
There is also a commitment to have a ‘continuous dialogue’ with the public about future changes.
BMA Welsh council chair David Bailey said the Welsh Government and health boards needed to work with doctors and frontline staff to make the plan a reality.
He said: ‘This plan shows that the Welsh Government is moving in the right direction and taking steps to ensure that health and social services in Wales are sustainable in the future.
‘It is vitally important that doctors are engaged and involved in any changes to the health service and that their expertise is taken into account so that they can continue to provide the best possible care to patients.
‘We implore health boards to work with clinicians and frontline staff to understand how best to use the £100m transformation fund to improve the delivery of services and expect that doctors are able to use the “offer of involvement” to improve local services. We hope that the money allocated to the transformation fund will be matched by longer-term investment.
‘Moving resources into the community is also something we welcome.’
He added: ‘Ultimately, actions speak louder than words, and the onus is now on the Welsh Government and health boards to work with doctors and other frontline staff on the details to make this plan a reality.
‘It is what the public and those who work in our NHS deserve.’
Other changes include the introduction of a centralised Welsh NHS executive overseeing health boards, which will make decisions on national issues.
Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething said: ‘This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which was born here in Wales. We remain hugely proud of its achievements and all who work within it. However, it is clear that much has changed in those 70 years. With an increase in life expectancy and our continued public health challenges the service is facing increasing pressure.
‘Today’s plan sets out our vision for the future – it looks at how we will adapt to meet these future challenges and transform the way we deliver health and social care. We will deliver that change and remain true to the core values of the NHS to provide free healthcare for all.’