RCPCH responds to Health and Social Care Committee workforce report

On the 25 July 2022 the Health and Social Care Committee published a report on Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care in England that highlights lack of decisive action from the UK Government and calls for a radical review of working conditions.
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The report flags

  • The Government’s reluctance to act decisively on workforce. It notes the lack of an effective workforce plan and the impact this will have on tackling the COVID backlog
  • Pressure on the workforce highlighting the days lost to sickness and increasing numbers feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed.
  • The need for a radical review of working conditions to reduce the intensity of work including an overhaul of flexible working and the importance of staff having access to adequate facilities.
  • The need to increase medical school places.
  • That there should be greater accountability from NHS senior and middle management for the reduction of racist discrimination.

You can find a copy of the report here.

In response to the report, RCPCH President, Camilla Kingdon said: 

When submitting evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee, we wanted to ensure that the experiences of paediatricians were carefully considered. Whilst we are pleased to see paediatricians referenced extensively in this report, we are deeply disturbed by the overall findings. 

Time and time again, we are hearing about widespread workforce shortages, burnout, extreme stress and unsustainable workloads from our members and the wider NHS. We recognise the incredible efforts of all our members to maintain patient care in exceedingly difficult circumstances, but this report shows that we are at a breaking point. 

Waiting lists for children are now the highest on record and are increasing at more than double the rate of adults. This coupled with increasing occurrences of burnout amongst paediatricians and staff is nothing short of a patient safety risk. This cannot go on. While the NHS remains in crisis there is no room to tackle ever growing health inequalities or focus on the overall health and well-being in children. By focusing on child health now we give ourselves the opportunity to build strong, healthy and happy adults and help protect NHS resources long into the future. Instead, we are at a standstill. To prioritise the needs of patients, we must also prioritise the wellbeing of the workforce.

We agree with the Committee, that the Government has failed to act decisively on workforce. There is an urgent need for better workforce planning informed by patient demand and working trends. For paediatricians, 39% of trainees opt for part-time work, a figure set to rise to 60% by 2040. To tackle this, we are asking the Government to keep children, young people, their families, and their paediatric professionals at the heart of workforce policy, and to publish the NHS workforce plan without further delay, alongside ringfenced multi-year funding.

Now is the time for concrete action, we can no longer rely on the adaptability and resilience of our workforce. We have to have a commitment to major investment in the workforce – both in terms of significant expansion in numbers, and in making the NHS a much better employer.  As the Conservative party leadership contest continues, we are again urging both candidates to prioritise health and care by committing to planning and training a health and care workforce that meets the needs of the population.