Welsh health minister announces £100M COVID-19 recovery package for NHS Wales

On 22 March, Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething published a plan to help the health and care system in Wales recover from the pandemic.

Supported by an initial £100M funding, the Health and Social Care in Wales COVID 19: Looking Forward plan looks at the following key aspects of recovery:

  • Reducing health inequalities to achieve a fairer Wales.
  • Building more responsive primary and community care.
  • Creating supportive mental health services.
  • More effective and efficient hospital services.
  • Better working between health and social services.
  • Supporting and building a resilient workforce.
  • Providing accessible digital support.

The Welsh Government also announced £1.26 million to set up a centre to promote the use of new technologies in health and social care.

Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales chief executive said the health and social care system is committed to learning from the pandemic and scaling up technological innovation.

WHY IT MATTERS

Developed with clinicians, the plan sets out targets to meet the NHS Wales vision as set out in the long-term plan for health and social care, A Healthier Wales.

The investment aims to enable Technology Enabled Care Cymru to support the use of new technologies, such as virtual consultation and remote monitoring.

The NHS Wales COVID-19 Innovation and Transformation Study was also published to summarise new technological innovations to emerge during the pandemic. The study captures learnings that can enable and sustain transformative ways of working for NHS Wales.

Alongside the recovery plan, the launch of the National Clinical Framework was also announced by Mr Gething. The framework is a commitment made in A Healthier Wales and lists how the strategic development of clinical services can make the NHS prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. The guidance document responds to aspects of the Parliamentary Review on the future of health and social care in Wales.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Earlier this year, NHS Wales partnered with GS1 UK to support traceability across healthcare, improve clinical safety for patients and modernise the use and tracking of medical devices.

In January, the first phase of the NHS Wales Video Consulting (VC) Service Evaluation was published based upon data gathered between March and August 2020. The TEC Cymru evidence demonstrated that video consulting was consistently high in satisfaction. 

ON THE RECORD

Mr Gething said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our health and social care system, patients and staff. As we emerge from the most serious stage of the pandemic, we are now in a position to set out how we can start to recover.

“This plan sets out the broad principles of recovery and more detailed actions will follow. I am making available an initial £100 million now to support the first steps, but it is clear more resources will be needed to make a full recovery. It will be a long journey, but it is also an opportunity to transform how we deliver health and care services in the future, and to tackle the health inequalities in our society that the pandemic has made even more evident.

“That is why, alongside our recovery plan, I am also pleased to announce our National Clinical Framework, which sets out how we see NHS clinical services developing over the next decade.”

Mr Goodall said: “Previously, only 8% of outpatient consultations were virtual, but this has increased to more than 34% since the start of the pandemic. For many patients this is a significant improvement in how they access services and we need to build on that, while ensuring that capacity for face-to-face services is focused on people who need to be seen in person.”

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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