RCPCH publishes “The State of Child Health: The Paediatric Workforce” report

The RCPCH report “The State of Child Health: The Paediatric Workforce” is based on data from the RCPCH Workforce Census 2015, with additional figures from the Office of National Statistics and RCPCH trainee recruitment processes. It reveals that in the year to September 2015, shortages of nurses and/or doctors led to periods of closure to new admissions by 31% of paediatric inpatient units and 41% of neonatal units across the UK, and highlights substantial vacancies at both consultant and trainee levels, the low number of academic consultants and the fact that General Practitioners and Practice Nurses have limited training in child health.

Responding to the report, Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“The facts speak for themselves: the situation is serious. There simply aren’t enough doctors to meet the needs of infants, children and young people, and advance their healthcare through clinical research. It’s a credit to the existing workforce that that they are - just - managing to continue to deliver the care children need. This is a dangerously under resourced service, yet the means to redress the situation exist. It is legitimate for us, and the UK public, to ask why, when solutions exist, the health and wellbeing of children are being placed in jeopardy?  

“The increase in the average hours of clinical duty worked by the consultant level workforce shows that recent “reconfigurations” have not reduced the strain on services, nor proven sufficient to maintain standards.

“In this run-up to the election we ask for a clear commitment to put in place the straightforward actions that will redress this appalling situation.

“There is great uncertainty following the Brexit vote around the immigration status and terms and conditions of employment for non-UK nationals working in the NHS. These colleagues are a valued and crucial component of the UK child health workforce and a simple assurance that their right to work in the UK will be protected, and their conditions secured, would be immeasurably helpful.

“Our report highlights the many serious difficulties that risk medicine becoming a less sought-after profession and are compromising patient care, the health of the population, and the reputation of the UK as a global leader in clinical practice, applied research, and innovation. Urgent action can address these problems; we call on whoever forms the next Government to make this a top priority.”

The report can be read in full on the RCPCH website