Responding to the General Medical Council report ‘State of Medical Education and Practice 2018’1, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“This report echoes our continued warnings on the scale of the workforce crisis facing the NHS, and should serve as a wake-up call to the government, policymakers and health bosses as to what we can expect from the future.
“The GMC’s findings that large groups of doctors want to reduce their hours, or are considering leaving clinical practice altogether, due to the often unbearable pressures they face on a daily basis, reflects what we hear from our own members – the doctors doing their best to provide high quality care to patients in GP practices, hospitals and in the wider NHS across the four nations all year round.
“Demand for the NHS is rocketing, and patients are often suffering from a number of complex conditions, which is having a huge effect on doctors’ workloads. Indeed, as this report finds, the majority are now working beyond their rostered hours at least once a week – a situation that is completely unsustainable.
“That doctors say they are having to refer unnecessarily or bypass clinical protocols in order to prioritise only the most urgent cases, makes for concerning reading and exposes the desperate situation many medics are findings themselves in.
“More than 90 per cent of doctors we asked earlier this year2 said that system pressures prevent the delivery of safe patient care, and this intervention from the GMC, whose responsibility it is to guarantee patient safety, is welcome.
“Of course, in just under four months’ time there is a great spectre on the horizon. We have been clear of the devastating impact Brexit is likely to have on our health service, and not least on its workforce. In a recent BMA survey we found that a third of EEA doctors working in the UK are considering leaving, and that more than three-quarters had no faith in the PM’s pledge to protect their rights going forward3. This has significant implications for the sustainability of our medical workforce in the future.
“It is positive to see the GMC recognising the pressures doctors are under, noting that the profession is on the brink of ‘breaking point’, and laying out ways to begin addressing this. There must be a UK-wide approach to tackling the workforce crisis and the underlying system pressures that are compounding the retention of highly-skilled doctors.
“In the coming weeks the government is set to announce its long-term plan, and while £20bn a year is likely to fall short of what the NHS really needs, it is imperative that any new funding is invested in such a way that makes a real difference on the frontline. It is vital that the government provides the resources, workforce and facilities to enable doctors to fulfil their professional duty to provide safe, quality care to patients.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a 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.
1. For a full copy of the report please contact the GMC.
2. Taken from the BMA survey ‘Caring, Supportive, Collaborative’. Find more information here.
3. Read more about our latest EU doctors survey here.
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