At the end of 2017, Health Education England, NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission, NICE and the Department of Health published a draft health and care workforce strategy for consultation.
Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future was discussed by our Trainees Committee, New Consultants Committee and Council. These conversations helped us to write our response, and will inform the discussions we have with government and others during the drafting of the final strategy.
The RCP agrees with the broad direction of travel and the common sense principles outlined. However, the document lacks detail so it will be important that stakeholders are also consulted on the first draft of a full strategy. If it does not, the government and its partners risk missing an excellent opportunity for consensus and coproduction.
Our main recommendations are:
- the number of medical school places should be doubled to 15,000 per year, with the aim of a small surplus of supply
- we need to encourage doctors in training to take up posts in specialties and location with the largest gaps, by providing them with incentives such as protected time for leadership, education, training, research and quality improvement
- the UK should be more accessible to doctors and other professionals from other countries, with an immediate increase in the size of the Medical Training Initiative to 2,000 places
- we need to introduce more flexibility in terms of working patterns, regulation, moving between training programmes, moving between specialties, and meeting the aspirations of current and future professionals
- while we can and will act now, we need a single, robust source of data that brings together the various sets that tell us about how many people are in the system, how they move within it, and when and why they leave, to enable us to plan well for the long term
- there must be more investment in public health initiatives, including the public health workforce, that reduce demand.