We are actively involved in the emergency planning response to the current COVID-19 public health emergency. Our priority at this time is to use our expertise and resources to support our frontline NHS services in light of the increasing demands from the pandemic, and to maintain the safety and wellbeing of our staff and our learners across Wales.
In line with Government advice, to protect our staff and the general public we have closed our offices for the next three weeks. HEIW staff are working from home and making the best use of technology to carry on our business as a virtual organisation. We have reviewed our IMTP and work programmes and have paused all non-essential work to focus on business continuity and support the COVID-19 response.
Our most critical function is education and training, especially where trainees and learners are an integral part of the workforce. We have had to make changes and adjustments to training programmes in a variety of ways and are grateful for the cooperation of trainees, trainers and our staff in helping us respond quickly and efficiently.
We have issued guidance on redeployment of trainees to support Health Boards and Trusts utilise the workforce in the best way. However, we appreciate that there may be glitches with new approaches and in those situations we urge trainees to speak to a senior member of staff in their employing organisation or to contact the postgraduate dean’s office at HEIW. Our professional support unit also continues to be available to trainees.
We have reduced key areas of our work to direct attention and resources to our COVID -19 response plan, for example, routine quality management work has been streamlined or postponed and we are managing any specific concerns on an individual basis as appropriate.
In line with social distancing all face-to-face speciality recruitment has been cancelled, with virtual alternatives being developed to avoid disrupting August 2020 appointments.
With our partners in the other three UK Statutory Education Bodies we have issued guidance on ARCP outlining the minimum level of engagement needed to ensure the ARCP process can proceed this year with minimal impact on COVID-19 response.
As the current public health crisis unfolds we are mindful of the effect delays in training and education can have on the workforce going forwards. As well as carrying out immediate actions to support NHS Wales today, we are also assessing what actions we need to take now to minimise the impact on education, training and the workforce when this emergency is over. We are working closely with regulators, universities, NHS organisations and employers on contingency plans to mitigate risks as much as possible while continuing to support patient care and services.
In view of recent statements regarding students across a range of professional groups we will be continuing to liaise with students and HEIs to manage the impact of changes to programmes.
We will keep updating our website as plans are developed and new information is available.