NHS officials head to Spain to find much-needed doctors
PATIENTS in hospital could soon be saying buenos dias to newly-recruited doctors.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board officials have flown to Spain to try to sign up doctors to help ease chronic shortages in critical areas.
The board revealed its latest recruitment drive in response to claims that it was planning to make cuts.
ABMU is holding a series of drop-in events relating to its Changing For The Better, or C4B, programme.
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The next takes place in Swansea's Grand Theatre tomorrow from 11am to 7pm.
But Swansea Trades Council will be lobbying the event from 6pm, describing the potential changes as cuts.
Its spokesman Ronnie Job said: "This is incredibly important. Changes that are made in the next few months will impact on the health of everyone for a long time.
"Cuts have to be challenged if we are to have any chance of defeating the cuts."
Mr Job said ABMU and the other six health boards in Wales had to find nearly £300 million of savings. This was on top of similar savings identified the previous year. "These cuts have led to shortages of doctors and other staff, jeopardised the quality and safety of healthcare and threaten the sustainability of services.
"But ABMU's proposal to accept these cuts and further reduce local services is not the answer," said Mr Job. "It will make matters worse by limiting accessibility to healthcare for the poor, those without transport and even whole communities."
An ABMU spokeswoman said the ideas for change were not about cuts but possible ways forward to make services safer and more reliable.
"Like everyone else in the current economic climate, ABMU faces financial challenges. But money is not the only issue and some of the possible changes may cost more to deliver.
"One of the big issues driving this is the chronic UK-wide shortage of doctors, particularly in some services.
"ABMU is doing all it can to recruit more doctors, and we are currently trying to recruit in Spain, carrying out interviews for doctors in acute medicine, paediatrics, A&E, anaesthetics and psychiatry.
"This follows an earlier recruitment drive we carried out in Dubai."
She added the board would be delighted to see as many people as possible at tomorrow's event, where staff would be available for face-to-face chats.