Plaid Looks to Tackle Health Inequalities in Disadvantaged Areas

Party Considers Proposals to Get Doctors into ‘Hard to Staff’ Areas

In an effort to combat health inequalities, Plaid Cymru is looking at proposals that aim to incentivise newly qualified doctors to work in disadvantaged communities. One incentive proposal that is being looked at is that of repaying a doctor’s student loan on condition that they remain in Wales and work in ‘hard to staff’ locations and specialities.

Local Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas is concerned that if doctors cannot be encouraged to work in these locations and specialities, understaffed services will be forced to close down, meaning that patients from local communities would have to travel further and wait longer for treatment.

There are currently more than 400 junior and middle grade doctor vacancies in Wales and there are fears that services will have to be cut if recruitment does not improve. The problem is particularly acute in rural and deprived areas. Rhodri added that the approach could also be extended to other healthcare professionals such as nurses and physiotherapists in areas where there are relevant shortages.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:

“Where we see problems or deficiencies in the health services provided to Welsh communities, such as here in the Amman Valley, we are looking to find the solutions to address them. Plaid Cymru believes in health services rooted in the heart of our communities and believe that the people living in those communities should be able to depend on those services. We are concerned that some local, community based health services could be threatened with closure due to recruitment problems and we are therefore looking at ways to tackle that.”

Jonathan Edwards MP added:

“One potential option would be paying off doctors student loans on condition that they remain in Wales and work in one of these ‘hard to staff’ locations. This approach could also be extended to other health professionals such as nurses and physiotherapists in areas where there are shortages in their fields.

“Plaid is ambitious for the future of Wales. We’re not content to sit back and accept the status quo. We’re looking at new, radical and innovative policies and solutions that will transform Wales and its communities for the better.”

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