Llandudno Hospital's suffering rheumatology crisis says Aberconwy AM

Original by Patrick Glover, North Wales Pioneer - https://www.northwalespioneer.co.uk/news/17228578.llandudno-hospitals-s…

(Photo - North Wales Pioneer)

The Rheumatology workforce at the Llandudno Hospital is at breaking point according to Aberconwy AM, Janet Finch-Saunders.


In a letter to the cabinet secretary for health and social service, Vaughan Gething, and Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board Chief Executive (BCUHB), Gary Doherty, she said there was a "rheumatology crisis" at the Llandudno Hospital with the workforce being stretched, overworked and members even being forced out of retirement.

Mrs Finch-Saunders said this was a major concern and something needed to be done.

She said: "“I am extremely worried about the rheumatology services in North West Wales, and especially Llandudno Hospital which has gone from winning Hospital Medicine Rheumatology Department of the Year in 2007, to seeing a shortage of permanent consultant rheumatologist since May 2016, and now being entirely reliant on locums.

“Until recently, the staff who remained at the hospital were stretched, overworked, and in one instance, forced out of retirement.

"However, the service has popped, seeing our local hospital, which serves around 200,000 people, left without a single permanent rheumatologist.

“The severity of this is apparent when considering that there should be three in Llandudno, as is supported by the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) and the Royal College of Physicians’ belief that there should be a full rheumatology multi-disciplinary team in place, and one full time rheumatologist per 86,000 population."

In a response to Mrs Finch-Saunders' letter, Mr Doherty said: "Regrettably, we are facing significant difficulties in recruiting consultant rheumatologist to fill our current and impending vacancies.

"This reflects the shortage of potential candidates at a national level, where we are aware of over twenty posts that are being advertised at present.

"As part of wider recruitment efforts we continue to seek ways to promote North Wales as an attractive place to work and to encourage any potential candidates to consider applying for the positions that we are seeking to fill.

"We are also undertaking a review of the rheumatology services across North Wales to identify how we can deliver an effective and sustainable service in the light of the ongoing workforce challenges."

But Mrs Finch-Saunders said these issues had been going on form more than two years and nothing was getting done.

She added: "The health board has been struggling to recruit rheumatologist for over two and a half years, it is reasonably foreseeable that our health board will be relying on locum consultants for some time to come.

“This problem has been building up for years. As such, I hold both the chief executive and cabinet secretary accountable for failing to implement any policies to avert this rheumatology crisis."