The report, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government, says that a move towards more patient-centred services means staff on Agenda for Change band five or above, will be increasingly involved in complex areas of care.
Following a period of consolidation after registration, they will support ‘innovative service development’, to be delivered by the management of lower band workers, including assistant practitioners and other healthcare support workers (HCSW).
The workforce review was carried out as the NHS cannot afford to continue to provide or staff the service the way it does, according to the report.
Its recommendations will now be piloted in four NHS organisations, including the North East Wales NHS Trust, until the end of this financial year and if successful will be rolled out across Wales.
Health minister Edwina Hart said: ‘There has been a 33% increase in staff working for the NHS since 1997 but it is unsustainable to plan, train and recruit that level of increase in future. It will help relieve pressure on specialist staff by reducing some of the less complex roles they have to do, which will ultimately aid job satisfaction and support holistic care for patients.’
The Welsh Assembly Government denied the recommendations were a cost-cutting measure and insisted that the initiative was about improving the skills of workers on lower bands.
RCN Wales said it was not concerned the review would mean a reduction in the number of nurses.
Richard Jones, interim director of RCN Wales, said the college was looking forward to seeing the future regulation of HCSWs and also the investment needed to train the workforce to carry forward the review.
• The Development of a Strategic Approach to Creating a More Flexible and Sustainable Workforce for NHS Wales