Blogs > Introduction to the NHS / Life in the UK

Working in Wales

  • February 17, 2021

Wales is a Country in the South West of the UK and is popular for its beautiful coastline, mountainous national parks and distinctive Welsh language. The capital of Wales is Cardiff which is a coastal city with an extensive array of history, leisure and culture.

Working for NHS Wales will bring you plenty of benefits including:

  • Annual Leave – you will receive a generous annual leave allowance of 27 days leave a year plus bank holidays, rising to 29 days after five years and 33 days after ten years of service
  • Flexible Working – NHS Wales appreciate that there is more to life than work and so they offer a flexible working policy to help you balance your home and working life. This includes part-time hours, job sharing options, career breaks, flexible retirement and working from home where applicable
  • Occupational Health - All employees have access to our occupational health services: the service can support staff with stress management, confidential counselling and seasonal vaccinations.
  • Salary – Everyone who joins the NHS is guaranteed a salary that matches their ability and responsibilities and is given every opportunity to increase it through training and development


How is NHS England different to NHS Wales?

Health services in England are primarily provided through NHS Trusts. There are 240 NHS Foundation Trusts and Trusts in England. Broadly, these NHS providers fall into the groups of Acute, Ambulance, Community and Mental Health. Each Trust will have its own board of executive and non-executive directors, and are accountable to the secretary of state. Each Acute NHS Trust in England oversees a certain amount of Hospitals.

In contrast, Health Services in Wales are delivered through their seven Health Boards and a further three NHS Trusts. Rather than having Trusts that are split into Acute, Ambulance, Community and Mental Health, the Health Boards encompass all aspects of HealthCare within a specific region of Wales. If you are an international Doctor interested in relocating and working within Wales, you will be working within one of the seven Health Boards (dependant on the specific location you are relocating to).

NHS Wales’ seven health boards are in place to plan, secure and deliver healthcare services in their specific areas, managing the hospitals that are within their catchments. They are listed below:

  1. Aneurin Bevan Health Board
  2. Swansea Bay University Health Board
  3. Cardiff & Vale University Health Board
  4. Hywel Dda Health Board
  5. Cwm Taf Morgannqg Health Board
  6. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
  7. Powys Teaching Health Board

Rather than the previous structure within Wales, whereby there were 22 Local Health Boards, the seven larger integrated organisations aim to provide improved collaborative working between hospitals, easier access to a wider range of health professionals and with small management, more money available for frontline services to improve patient care.

In addition to the above Health Boards, which cumulatively cover the whole of Wales, the three NHS Trusts within Wales function slightly differently, covering the whole of the Country and offering specialist services. This of course differs from the NHS Trusts in England – which are smaller organisations overseeing Hospital groups.

  1. Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust – (For Emergency Services)
  2. Velindre NHS Trust – (For specialist services in Cancer Care and a range of national support services)
  3. Public Health Wales

Do Wales have CQC reports?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspects care services in England only. The Health Care regulator equivalent that operates within Wales is the ‘Healthcare Inspectorate Wales’. Similarly to the CQC within England, the HealthCare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) regulates and inspects NHS services and independent healthcare providers in Wales against a range of standards, policies, guidance and regulations to highlight areas requiring improvement.#

The HealthCare Inspectorate Wales will make announced or unannounced inspections of Hospitals within each of the 7 Health Boards and look at how the services comply with regulations, meet healthcare standards and meet other legislation, professional standards and guidance as applicable. Similarly to the CQC in England, they will then use these judgements to write an inspection report, which will include any required improvements, where it is then published on their website.

The reports published by HealthCare Inspectorate Wales are delivered in three themes:

  1. Quality of Patient Experience – they speak to patients about their experiences of Care
  2. Delivery of Safe and Effective Care – they look at how services provide high quality, safe and reliable care for patients
  3. Quality of Management and Leadership – they look at how services are managed and led and how the Hospital check their own performance against relevant regulations, standards and guidance.

Do I need to be able to speak Welsh?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked by International Medical Graduates considering relocating to and working within Wales. The answer is no! NHS Wales do not expect their staff to speak Welsh. According to the ONS, and as of June 2020, the number of Welsh speakers in the UK sits at 874,700 (just under a third of the Welsh population).

It is important to acknowledge, that even though it is not a requirement or necessity to speak Welsh in Wales, the language is still used in a variety of social settings. For example, all road signs in Wales are bilingual; meaning they are written in both English and Welsh. Additionally, in education (specifically Primary and Secondary Schools), the Welsh language is integrated into both teaching and learning.

Interested in working in Wales?

If you are an international doctor who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS in Wales send your CV to [email protected] – and we will be happy to help you. In addition, if you would like support form an online forum of other IMG’s join our Facebook Group - IMG Advisor


Health Careers. 2021. UK Health Systems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 January 2021]. 2021. About Us | Healthcare Inspectorate Wales. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 January 2021]. 2021. Our Benefits - Public Health Wales. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 January 2021]. 2021. Health In Wales | Structure. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 January 2021]. 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 January 2021].

GOV.WALES. 2021. NHS Wales Health Boards And Trusts | GOV.WALES. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 January 2021].

WebsiteName. 2021. Why Are Signs Bilingual In Wales? A History Of Welsh Signs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 January 2021].


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