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‘Brain drain’ in Welsh NHS as 3,000 vacancies go unfilled

09 Aug 2021 3 minute read
Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

The Welsh Labour Government have overseen a “brain drain” in the Welsh NHS which has left 3,000 posts unfilled, according to data revealed by a Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives.

The health boards which responded to the request revealed that there were currently vacancies for 2,201 nurses and midwives, along with 771 medical and dental professionals.

The Conservatives said that final figures were likely to be higher as three of the seven health boards would not provide them with the full figures for all vacancies.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said that the recruitment and retention of staff was now one of the biggest challenges facing the Welsh NHS.

“Over the past two decades, the Labour Government has overseen a brain drain and managed decline in our public services making them an unattractive place to work – a lethal mix which is currently placing immense strain on our NHS,” he said.

He added that the vacancies would put increased pressure to the Welsh NHS as it begins to deal with backlogs in waiting lists which doubled before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Glaring holes in frontline staffing are now affecting all health boards and most medical disciplines,” he said.

“The current predicament is to the obvious detriment of patient care and is a legacy of years of poor management by the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.

“To have thousands of vacancies in a nation of Wales’s size is a sign of confusion and complacency at the top of government – and that rests with Labour.”


The highest number of nursing vacancies were present in Betsi Cadwaladr health board in the north, which accounted for just under a third (698 or 32%) of these.

Meanwhile, Dyfed’s Hywel Dda Health Board had the highest number of medical and dental vacancies (276).

The figures are incomplete as Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, which covers the central valleys, failed to respond to the information request.

Cardiff and Vale Health Board did not give numbers of allied health staff vacancies, and Powys Health Board would not provide details for allied health, medical, nor dental vacancies.

“We need a recruitment and retention strategy with real teeth because it is evident the one in place by Labour ministers is totally ineffective and has putting our NHS at breaking point,” Russell George MS said.

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Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 years ago

Lies, damned lies and Tories? NHS Wales directly employed staffing December 2019 to December 2020. The total number of staff increased by 4,599 (5.6%) to 86,141. Medical and dental staff increased by 504 (7.5%) to 7,245. Nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff increased by 1,737 (5.2%) to 35,087. Other staff groups increased by 2,359 (5.7%) to 43,809. Staff headcount increased by 4,810 (5.1%) to 100,000. Meanwhile in Tory England hospitals alone are short 36,000 FTE nurses and 90,000 FTE medical staff in total. (They don’t count nurses in social care, surgeries, visiting etc.) England also faces a mass exodus as… Read more »

2 years ago

They’ve got a nerve. The Conservatives (at Westminster) are the ones who ultimately fund the Welsh NHS, and Welsh Labour are just administering their cuts.

The NHS in England is in a comparable condition, The Guardian reported that there were 90,000 vacancies in NHS England (see link). This is a deliberate managed decline and since NHS Wales is match funded what choice do Labour have?

End NHS staff shortages now, Boris Johnson told | NHS | The Guardian

It is time Wales became independent so we can manage our public services in a sustainable manner.

Paul hunt
Paul hunt
2 years ago

I feel as if this is just one of many ploys from the conservatives to smear the Labour Parties efforts and management of the pandemic in Wales. For many years the NHS has taken the brunt of cuts and the caring nature of the individuals taken advantage of. A pay rise is due and has been fairly earned however, the reality of the situation is the SENEDD is limited to what it can do with the budget it is given. We as a people are quick to forget things and it is worth remembering prior to the pandemic NHS hospitals… Read more »

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