Hospital Dr News

NHS facing shortage of medical consultants as unfilled posts hit ten-year high, data shows

The proportion of unfilled medical consultant posts across the UK is at its highest level in almost a decade, according to a census conducted by the medical royal colleges.

Nearly half (48%) of advertised consultant posts across the UK were unfilled last year – up from 36% in 2013.

Most posts were not filled because there were no applicants. Of the 48% of posts that went unfilled in the UK, 49% were unfilled due to a lack of any applicants at all and 34% due to a lack of suitable candidates.

There were higher rates of unsuccessful appointments in Wales (59%) and Northern Ireland (57%), than in England (46%). In England, the East Midlands region had the highest proportion of unsuccessful appointments (63%), followed by the West Midlands (61%). In London, only 38% of appointments were unsuccessful.

Many higher student trainees were unable to complete their training during the pandemic, meaning there will potentially be fewer newly qualified consultants to apply for posts.

The BMA estimates that England alone has around 50,000 too few doctors.

The three Royal Colleges of Physicians believe a lack of long-term workforce planning is the primary factor behind the 33 per cent increase in unfilled consultant posts across the UK since 2013.

The three Royal Colleges of Physicians are among several organisations supporting an amendment tabled by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to the Health and Care Bill in England to ensure that every 2 years the secretary of state publishes independently verified assessments of the workforce numbers needed in future to meet patient demand.

Currently there is no public data on whether England is training enough healthcare workers now to meet expected future demand.

This amendment would help provide that data, enabling proper workforce planning that takes account of changes in the NHS workforce and rising demand for health services from an ageing population where multiple conditions are increasingly common.

Workforce planning needed

Dr Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “We’re being hit by a perfect storm of high demand for services and not enough staff. This can’t go on.

“The fact that so many posts were unfilled because there were no applicants shows the supply of doctors falls woefully short of demand. We need a clear commitment from government to publish regular workforce projections so that we know how many staff to train to meet future demand.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “In light of this crisis, we strongly support the amendment to the Government’s Health and Care Bill which would require the health secretary to publish regular projections on how many staff are needed in the NHS to meet future patient demand. Our members are also clear that the education budgets for the NHS must not be cut in the coming years to support efforts to close the gap in workforce numbers in the long-term.”

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation