NHS risks more cancelled procedures in 2018 unless quick action is taken on staffing

The NHS is being “pushed to its limit,” according the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP’s) latest report.

Over 1,500 doctors across the UK were surveyed for the report, with the majority indicating that over the last year, their situation had worsened in nearly all areas of care.

Doctors are struggling to cope with rising demand, the impact of an ageing population with increasingly complex medical needs, and poor morale in a reportedly underfunded, understaffed and overstretched NHS.

According to 64% of surveyed doctors, patient safety has deteriorated over the past year – which is 10% higher than the previous year.

A staggering 93% had experienced staff shortages across the team, while 84% believe that the workforce is demoralised.

Almost half of respondents said that care quality had reduced in the last year, and a huge 80% are concerned about their ability to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months.

Professor Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, called the findings “extremely worrying and depressing,” given that efforts had been put into forward-planning and cancelling elective operations to help the NHS to cope better over the winter.

“We simply cannot go through this again – it is not as if the situation was either new or unexpected,” she warned.

“As the NHS reaches 70, our patients deserve better – somehow, we need to move faster towards a better resourced, adequately staffed NHS during 2018, or it will happen again.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), responded to the report with empathy, with doctors echoing the concerns of their hospital colleagues regarding increasing workload and concerns for patient safety.

“The combination of a depleted workforce, intense workload, and chronic underfunding has left our health service on the brink, putting both staff and patient wellbeing at risk,” she explained.

“In general practice alone, our workload has risen by at least 16% over the last seven years, but investment in our service has not risen at the same pace – something surgeries up and down the country are now feeling on a day-to-day basis.”

Stokes-Lampard said that the RCGP agrees with the report’s recommendations to make the UK a more accessible and attractive place to work for doctors from overseas, and that public initiatives to reduce patient need must be properly funded in order for the NHS to see any benefit.

Top image: Johnny Greig

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