Hospital Dr News

Patient safety in NHS being compromised by medic shortages, claim royal colleges

More than half of all consultants and two thirds of trainees reported frequent gaps in trainees’ rotas.

These are the key findings from Focus on Physicians 2017-18, the annual census of consultant physicians and trainees in the UK.

One in five respondents say rota gaps are causing significant problems for patient safety in hospitals, while three quarters of respondents have highlighted the workaround solutions they are regularly having to find.

Published by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians of London, other findings include:

  • almost half of advertised consultant posts remain unfilled because of a lack of suitable applicants
  • consultants and trainees are working around 10% more than their contracted hours. This equates to trainees working an extra six weeks and consultants an extra month unpaid a year
  • 33% of the current consultant workforce are predicted to reach their intended retirement age in the next decade. Medical student places need doubling now to fill this and the gap left generally by doctors leaving the profession
  • satisfaction among consultants and trainees with working in general internal medicine remains significantly lower than with specialty-working

Professor David Galloway, President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow said: “What’s of particular concern is the finding that almost one in five consultants across the UK reported that rota gaps cause significant problems for patient safety in their hospital. This is an unsustainable situation which must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“While we welcome short term actions being taken by governments across the UK to tackle workforce issues, such as the lifting of the cap on tier 2 visas for NHS staff, we need consistent and sustained action if we’re to address this situation in the longer term.

“Government, patients and the medical profession must work hand in hand if we’re to deliver the best possible NHS for all.”

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