NHS ‘heading into extremely difficult autumn’ amid rising rota gaps

Healthcare services and its professionals are “heading into an extremely difficult autumn”, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has warned as the latest workforce survey from the RCPCH revealed widespread staff shortages and rising rota gaps in the field.

The survey, which has been collecting evidence since 2009, found that more than one in four general paediatric posts at senior trainee level are now vacant, with over half of paediatric units not meeting recommended staffing standards. To keep services running, consultants are increasingly providing unplanned cover in addition to covering their own roles.

Perhaps even more worryingly, four out of five, or almost 90%, of clinical directors are worried about how services will cope in the next six months. Doctors argued children’s services are “at a breaking point, sustained by existing junior doctors and consultants struggling to plug vacancies”.

Almost 80% of tier 2 and 60% of tier 1 rotas, which are mainly made up of junior doctors, have not been able to attract the necessary 10 full-time staff. The rise in junior doctor vacancies has then led to an increase in the amount of consultants filling in rota gaps at short notice.

Dr Simon Clark, workforce officer at the RCPCH, argued “there is no escaping the fact” that more junior and consultant posts are “urgently needed”, coupled with a “radical redesign of services”.

For full article see National Health Executive 17 August 2016