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Call to improve working conditions

St Marys/Hammersmith Hospitals 21-12-16
Hospital doctors walking down corridor SMH2016

Hospital managers have urged the Government to improve the working conditions of ‘heroic’ NHS staff to reverse an acceleration in resignations.

Analysis in There for us, a report by NHS Providers, pinpoints disgruntlement with work-life balance as the ‘fastest-growing reason’ for voluntary resignations of NHS staff.

Doctors are top of the report’s league table of leavers, making up 15.5 per cent of staff who quit in 2015-16, a full 5 per cent ahead of nurses.

The report points to the real-terms 6 per cent cut in NHS staff pay between 2010 and 2017.

‘Recruiting and retaining staff has become more difficult as the job gets harder, training budgets are cut, and prolonged pay restraint bites,’ the report states.

‘Many provider trusts – hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services – are struggling to recruit and retain the staff they need to deliver high-quality care for patients and service users,’ it adds. ‘There are very big gaps in some places.’

NHS hospitals had learned that there was ‘a great deal that trusts can do to improve junior doctors’ experience of working and training in the NHS’ following the industrial action last year.

Many had ‘begun to make changes to address non-contractual day-to-day issues’, it added.


'Heroic' efforts

One trust leader told the report’s researchers: ‘The NHS is significantly dependent on the "heroic" efforts of clinical and non-clinical colleagues in responding to increasing service demand within an environment of ever-challenging financial constraints (including pay/reward controls) that compromises work/life balance, learning and development and overall job satisfaction.’

The NHS Providers report is the latest in a series of warnings to Government about the emerging staff crisis facing and afflicting the health service.

Health Foundation director of research Anita Charlesworth said of its report that was ‘a growing gap between rhetoric about the Government’s ambitions to grow the NHS workforce, and the reality of falling numbers of nurses and GPs'.

The Health Foundation report came after the BMA’s own analysis of medical recruitment warned that patient safety could be put at risk by significant shortages facing most specialties.

Training places across three in four medical specialties were unfilled last year – and fewer people were picking medicine as a career, our study found.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul has described NHS workforce planning as ‘chaotic and confused’.

‘With the NHS under unprecedented workload and funding pressure, we need the Government to get a grip on this mounting crisis,’ he added.

‘The NHS needs a clear, coherently funded plan that leads to the recruitment of more doctors, especially in currently understaffed parts of the health service.’

Read more about the BMA’s work on medical recruitment

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