NHS being 'pushed to its limit' according to reality check report

The NHS crisis is being 'pushed to its limit' according to over 1,500 physicians surveyed by the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) in our latest report NHS reality check: Update 2018

Doctors from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland provided detailed information to the report, with the majority indicating that their situation had become worse in nearly all areas of care over the last year.

Overall, the picture painted by respondees shows doctors struggling against rising demand, the impact of an ageing population with increasingly complex medical needs, and the difficulties of maintaining morale when the NHS is underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched.

The data showed:  

  • 64% of doctors believe that patient safety has deteriorated over the past year (10% higher than last year)
  • 93% experienced staff shortages across the team (9% higher than last year)
  • 84% believe that the workforce is demoralised (2% higher than last year)
  • 85% cite rising demand for their service over the past year (7% higher than last year)
  • 47% cite lower-quality care over the past year (10% higher than last year)
  • 80% are worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months (6% higher than last year)

RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said:

It is extremely worrying and depressing that our doctors have experienced an even worse winter than last year, particularly when so much effort was put into forward planning and cancelling elective procedures to enable us to cope better. We simply cannot go through this again – it is not as if the situation was either new or unexpected. 

As the NHS reaches 70, our patients deserve better – somehow, we need to move faster towards a better resourced, adequately staffed NHS during 2018, or it will happen again.

Using the statistical and oral data, the RCP made three recommendations for fixing the ongoing crisis, which included making the UK more accessible and attractive to doctors from other countries, bring NHS organisations, royal colleges, professions, trade unions, regulators, higher education institutions and think tanks together to work to make sure the NHS has the workforce and resources it needs, and match funding for health and social care must with growing patient need while investing more in public health initiatives that reduce that need.