The Future Doctor: Call for Evidence - consultation response

In September 2019 we responded to a call for evidence from Health Education England on The Future Doctor – What do the NHS, patients and the public require from 21st-century doctors?

This is a response Health Education England’s call for evidence on Future Doctor – What do the NHS, patients and the public require from 21st-century doctors? following the Interim NHS People Plan and Health Education England (HEE) commitment to work with key stakeholders and partners to look at the role of the doctor in future multidisciplinary teams and how they interact with the evolving roles of other healthcare professionals.

Our response

  • As in the present day, children and young people will want to build trusting relationships with paediatricians and healthcare practitioners who know about their whole life, listen to their views and act accordingly.
  • The timescale and nature of changes to doctors’ roles will depend on the political, social and economic context of the country and doctors’ localities. Some key trends can be identified, however. For example, NHS colleagues are likely to expect increased multi-disciplinary working with doctors, in line with the trend towards integrated, person-centred care.
  • Mental health continues to headline the NHS and wider Governmental agenda: doctors of the future may be expected to be increasingly aware and prepared for comorbid and primary mental health issues. The public and service users will likely expect to be involved in decision-making about their health and to receive timely, expert healthcare.
  • If not supported accordingly, future doctors may retire early and exit the health service with their invaluable knowledge and experience. Pension tax legislation issues contributed to a climate of uncertainty among senior healthcare professionals, and a feeling of being betrayed by the NHS potentially meaning that some senior clinicians will retire earlier than they may have planned.
  • New technologies, models of care delivery and a focus on health prevention are not possible without increased workforce capacity and a focus on upskilling the current workforce. All will also require significant levels of investment and must be accompanied by a culture shift.

Our recommendations

  • Future doctors and health practitioners should be willing to build trusting relationships with children and young people as well as cooperate with the public and service users involving them in decision-making about their health. They should be increasingly aware and prepared for primary and comorbid mental health issues.
  • Staff members should embrace a culture shift in the NHS, championed by employers, making the health service a more supportive and collaborative place to work. As part of this, employers must allow clinicians increased flexibility to develop portfolio careers and determine their work/life balance.
  • Significant investment in terms of funding and workforce capacity must be awarded across the country to ensure that solutions rather than demand are the determinant of future doctors’ roles.
  • Doctors of the future must be supported to develop skills in managing medical uncertainty. They must also be supported to develop technology skills as new technologies become prevalent in the NHS, and to keep these up to date with regular training opportunities. All doctors should have a comprehensive knowledge that allows them to meet the demands of their patients and wider population. For example, all medical students should have exposure to paediatrics and understand the basics of treating children and young people and how they differ from adults.
  • New technologies, models of care delivery and focus on health prevention should be paired with: efforts in increasing capacity and upskilling the current workforce, significant levels of investments, a culture shift towards inclusive multi-disciplinary teamwork. There should be a preliminary focus on standardising the present NHS IT infrastructure to a high quality in order to lay solid foundation for the introduction of technical innovation. A standardised system to collect and share data across the health service should also be devised.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Health Policy team: