Royal College of Physicians urges MPs to address NHS workforce crisis

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has written to MPs in the West Midlands to highlight the shortage of consultants and higher specialty trainees (HSTs) in their area and call for them to put pressure on the Government to urgently address the NHS workforce crisis.

 

Over a third (41%) of senior doctor jobs advertised in the West Midlands have gone unfilled, according to data from the RCP. From January 2018 to September 2019, 88 physician consultant posts in the West Midlands were advertised but only 52 (59%) of these recruitment processes were successful.

Hospitals also experienced rota gaps, which have a huge impact on staff morale. Almost three quarters of consultants (74%) and HSTs (73%) reported that rota gaps and vacancies had negatively affected their work-life balance.

The need for staff to cover gaps in rotas has meant that almost half of HSTs (46%) reported missing a training opportunity in the last year due to covering a gap, and over half of consultants (54%) reported receiving no compensation for covering gaps or vacancies.

This comes as more and more consultants in the West Midlands are reaching retirement age, with 41% of those currently working in the region set to retire over the next decade. The RCP is calling on the government to take sustained action to immediately increase the supply of clinicians.

The RCP believes that one practical solution to developing the workforce is to double the number of medical school places to 15,000 per year.

Professor Donal O’Donoghue, RCP registrasaid: "This data further highlights the immense pressures that the medical profession faces across the NHS.

"Not only are patients and carers having to wait longer for care, but the wellbeing of doctors up and down the country is suffering due to the immense pressures that come from working in a service that is severely short-staffed. In order to increase the number of doctors for the future, we’re calling on the Government to double the number of medical students.

"Only then can we move closer to providing a health service that is fair and timely for everyone, wherever and whenever they need it."