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03.11.17

RCP highlights need to deliver responsive seven day service over winter

Hospitals must be able to deliver a responsive seven day service over winter, the Royal College of Physicians has argued.

In a letter to hospital chief executives, the college has warned that doctors shouldn’t have to work around low staff numbers and inadequate funding.

Its 2016-17 census found that 55% of consultants frequently had a trainee gap in their rota, with three quarters of them saying that it was usually possible for them to “find a workaround solution.”

In response to RCP members’ concerns about morale, working conditions and systems, the college has issued guidance to prepare in the run up to what will be a difficult winter.

As part of this guidance it highlights the importance of protecting the physical and mental health of the workforce.

To cope with the increased demand that winter brings, hospitals need a trust-wide plan to improve patient flow and work to minimise unnecessary bed occupancy.

However, in the letter, Professor Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, acknowledged the difficult year-round picture faced by the NHS: “As winter approaches, the media is full of concerns that the NHS is headed for a crisis.

“But for health and social care providers, we know that the reality is a worrying picture all year round.

“The NHS remains under-funded, under-doctored, overstretched, and together we deal with the impact every day.”

The college is encouraging its members to feedback to it about their experiences over the winter, so that it can know about hospitals’ efforts to ease pressures.

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