Responding to the CQC’s State of Health Care and Adult Social Care in England 2022/23 report1, Dr Latifa Patel, BMA representative body chair, said:
“This comprehensive look at health and care services in England shows exactly what happens when these services – and crucially the staff that work in them – are unsupported and undervalued: patients and people who are supposed to be looked after do not get the safe quality care they need.
“The experiences of staff, their declining wellbeing and the impact that this has on care are spelled out clearly: they are ‘overworked, exhausted and stressed, sometimes to the point of becoming ill, injured or leaving their job altogether’. This exhaustion is both a symptom and cause of huge workforce shortages, and the result of a failure to get a grip on the retention of doctors and our colleagues across the NHS and social care. Pay – and the repeated real-terms cuts imposed over the last 15 years that have led doctors out on strike for the last eight months - is the elephant in the room here. The CQC itself highlights how dissatisfaction with pay is a key factor in declining job satisfaction levels and sense of value at work. Without restoring the value of doctors, the workforce shortages highlighted in this report will only get worse.
“Sadly, but inevitably, and despite individuals’ best efforts in our GP practices, hospitals and across the NHS, these workforce shortages increase waiting times for people needing care. And worryingly, staff have raised that the stress and burnout caused by this understaffing makes mistakes and poor care more likely.
“Even when staff recognise errors in the system, they are not comfortable raising concerns – something we hear time and time again from our members. This culture of blame and fear must end so that staff are listened to without fear of reprisals, and meaningful changes are made so that patient safety is improved as a result.
“As the CQC articulates, at the core of this are patients. They are bearing the brunt by not getting the quality care they deserve and need – and doctors want to provide – in a timely and efficient way, and so very often their health deteriorates further. This is hitting marginalised and deprived communities harder, widening the deep health inequalities that these people experience already.
“Without a renewed commitment to a publicly funded, publicly provided national health service, and a solution to the workforce crisis which relies on valuing doctors and healthcare workers properly, the very foundations on which the NHS was built are at risk.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- Please contact the Care Quality Commission for a copy of the report.