Sunday, 26 May, 2024
HomeWeekly RoundupRoyal College says NHS is 'clueless' about manning levels

Royal College says NHS is 'clueless' about manning levels

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) “hasn’t got a clue” how many doctors and other health professionals it needs to safely staff its wards, medical leaders have said at the launch of a new system for manning hospitals. Patients can expect the workforce to look very different in ten years’ time as shortages of doctors and nurses have forced new roles to be created, the Royal College of Physicians are quoted in a report in The Independent as saying.

The system recommends running wards based on numbers of decision makers, with at least two doctors or other senior clinicians employed to cover a standard 30-person ward and six to eight on a 45-bed acute ward – where care needs are higher. This is not the number of people on the ward at any one time but how many would be needed to cover it over a regular week and absorb sicknesses and changes in demand that increase risk to patients.

It comes amid a staffing crisis in the NHS and grim official figures earlier this year that show 100,000 staff posts are currently vacant, with a third of these gaps in nursing.

The college will begin working with NHS trusts to implement the proposals and ensure safe staffing levels across the NHS. But it stopped short of saying how many doctors were needed now as it warned the NHS does not even fully know the size of its existing workforce.

“While the public might think we know how many doctors should be on the ward at any one time, we haven’t got a clue,” Dr Andrew Goddard, a consultant gastroenterologist and president-elect of the RCP, said in the report. “This is highlighting the complete lack of data and routine collection and saying for the first time ever ‘this is how many doctors at different levels as well as other health professionals at other levels the NHS needs to provide safe care’.”

Goddard said it would also help to address pressures on junior doctors which are causing many of them leave the NHS even before finishing their training and allow for the influx of new roles like physician associates (PAs).

The report says the NHS is training thousands of PAs: science graduates who have trained for two years and can diagnose and recommend treatments to patients under supervision but have been criticised as “doctors on the cheap”.

“We want to know there are professionals there with the skills to look after us, care for us and provide effective treatment,” Goddard said.

[link url="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-doctor-nurse-staffing-crisis-royal-college-physicians-patients-wards-a8444931.html"]The Independent report[/link]

MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.