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Open letter calls for action on workforce plan

We have joined a group of 33 organisations working across healthcare and social care in Wales in an open letter to the Welsh Government calling for an update and timeline on the publication of the workforce implementation plan.

Our open letter to the Welsh Government

The workforce implementation plan promised by Welsh Government earlier this year is a vital opportunity to tackle challenges across recruitment, retention, and retirement to ensure we have a workforce that can meet the needs of patients. This must be underpinned by funding and projections of staff numbers required now and in the future.

We face serious challenges and a difficult winter ahead. Dentists and other healthcare professionals cannot continue to provide high quality patient care while under intense levels of daily pressure. A long-term workforce plan is vital to bring down waiting lists, which have reached record levels in Wales.

We need to know how many staff are required to keep pace with patient demand but, as it stands, we simply do not know the scale of the problem. Workforce data must be published in an open, accessible, and transparent format to support decisions around immediate and future workforce requirements. We called for better workforce planning and data in our consultation response to the Senedd Inquiry into Dentistry.

Dr Russell Gidney, Chair of the Welsh General Dental Practice Committee said: "Dentistry currently faces the worst recruitment crisis in living memory. We're seeing practice owners handing back their contracts or reducing their commitment simply because they can't find dentists willing to work in a broken NHS system."

There is significant anecdotal evidence, including your responses to our surveys, suggesting dentists and DCPs are facing a high risk of burnout. Data shows healthcare professionals are facing a potentially miserable winter ahead feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. Unless the Welsh Government acts immediately, long waiting lists, dwindling staff numbers, and burnout will become the new normal, which is unacceptable.

To support dentists in providing long-term, sustainable care the Government must address the growing challenges of staff shortages. An adequately funded, detailed, workforce implementation plan is the first step towards achieving this. The NHS in Wales cannot provide value for money or high-quality care to patients without a well-resourced workforce.