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Shaping the future of the mental health workforce in Wales

A wide range of people from across Wales have shared their ideas to shape the future mental health workforce. 

Mental health services in Wales have received significant investment in recent years to increase the range of services available and meet the growing demand for mental health support, with the service having to adapt further due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While improvements have been made, it is recognised that the current mental health workforce is fragile.

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and Social Care Wales are working together to develop a vision for a strong, sustainable and multidisciplinary workforce offering compassionate care to the people of Wales. The vision will support Welsh Government’s Together for Mental Health Delivery Plan 2019-22 and future sector developments. 

In October 2020, almost 2,500 people took part in a month-long interactive virtual mental health conference sharing their ideas to help shape the future workforce required to deliver a leading mental health service in Wales. A feedback report from the event has now been published outlining the key areas of focus. 

One ambition is to improve recruitment. By providing attractive and innovative career opportunities, the sector aims to demonstrate the enormous potential of a career in mental health. 

There is also a need to provide career progression and job satisfaction for those working in the sector. For example, access to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and widening access through non-traditional career paths such as apprenticeships. 

To ensure the workforce meets the needs of those accessing mental health services, the report emphasises the importance of delivering patient-led and quality driven care.

Other areas of focus include maximising the opportunities to use digital technologies, fostering a culture of compassionate and collective leadership, promoting inter-disciplinary learning to ensure standardisation of training and ensuring robust data guides the workforce plan. 

Alex Howells, Chief Executive, HEIW, said: “We were delighted that so many of our colleagues, partners and service users shared their ideas about the future mental health workforce at our interactive conference last October, hosted in partnership with Social Care Wales. 

“This feedback report demonstrates our ambitious plan for the future workforce and how we will develop new solutions and address service challenges in a creative way.”

Sue Evans, Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, said: “It is essential that we build on the robust and strong evidence base generated from the Health and Social Care Workforce Strategy. 

“The intelligence gained from the mental health workforce conference will assist us to build a clear, action based, workforce plan for the mental health workforce that clearly focuses on the challenges of Covid-19 recovery as well meeting the demands of future service delivery.” 

HEIW and Social Care Wales’ report outlines their vision to build on the progress and investment already seen in the mental health sector. For example, the number of mental health nursing places has increased by more than 25% in the last three years with a 15% increase proposed for next year. 

Looking forward, the two organisations will continue to engage with the mental health workforce and service users to develop a sustainable plan to shape the workforce of the future. 

Read the full Virtual Mental Health Conference Feedback Report.