Monday 19 October 2020 9:35 PM UTC
LONDON October 20: The NHS workforce faces a perfect storm of consultants choosing to retire earlier, a significant proportion approaching retirement age and a growing trend of younger doctors walking away from their career, a report has warned.
According to the report, COVID-19 added significant additional pressure on the workforce with doctors working long hours, in new settings, whilst risking their own lives. Now the NHS is facing a growing backlog of unmet need on top of the existing staffing and resourcing shortages.
There aren’t enough consultants in hospitals across England, a report has warned. The current workforce is ‘inadequately sized’ to deliver all the patient care required, the British Medical Association (BMA) report warned.
It aims to understand why the senior doctors are leaving the NHS earlier than anticipated, and before their retirement age. The report suggests that high levels of demand, issues with pensions taxation and growing workloads are all major factors, while inadequate staffing levels lead to doctors reducing their hours or leaving the medical profession altogether.
Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: ‘It is crucial that our recommendations are thoroughly considered, and detailed plans are drawn up to address this crisis both for now and in the future. ‘Without that, we risk creating an NHS that no one wants to work in, the consequences of which are potentially catastrophic.’
The report was written in collaboration with seven medical Royal Colleges and the Faculty of Intensive Medicine. Published on Monday, it makes a series of short-term recommendations to help alleviate additional pressures on the workforce as a result of the coronavirus crisis, as well as a number of longer-term proposals.
‘The current consultant workforce is inadequately sized to deliver all of the patient care required now and into the foreseeable future,’ the report says. ‘There are particular challenges for the NHS at present, given the Covid-19 outbreak and its impact on NHS capacity and waiting times.
‘Those challenges have further exacerbated the pre-existing problems with undersupply of the consultant workforce. ‘Unless there are swift changes to working methods and organisational culture, it is hard to be confident that the NHS will be able to resolve its current waiting time difficulties.’
It found that while the number of full-time equivalent consultants increases slightly each year, the demand for consultant care grows at a faster rate, amid a growing and ageing population needing more care. At the end of June 2020, there were also at least 8,278 secondary care full-time equivalent medical vacancies, according to the findings.
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