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RCP comment on ongoing industrial action

Doctors across England are striking throughout the latter half of this month. 

Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: 

“People across the country will be concerned about the impact of seven days of strike action by doctors. The decision to strike is a difficult one – and it is another sign of the need for urgent action to tackle the workforce crisis. We know that doctors feel overworked and under-resourced to deliver the care they want to provide. We must see an end to this dispute, and we urge the government to take the lead.” 

Junior doctors will strike from 7am Thursday 13 July to 7am on Tuesday 18 July. Consultant doctors will strike (providing only Christmas day cover) on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 July.  

The UK has the lowest number of doctors per 1,000 people of European countries in the OECD. The average is 3.7 and the United Kingdom has 3.2, behind Latvia (3.4) and the Czech republic (4.3).  

As the RCP’s recent physician workforce census with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow shows, almost one in five senior doctors (18%) almost never feel in control of their workload while a majority say widespread vacancies are significantly impacting patient care. The census highlights the strain felt by UK doctors trying to keep pace with ever-growing patient need. The majority of consultant physicians (84%) felt valued by their patients – but 44% reported having an excessive workload almost always or most of the time.  

The essence of these findings is echoed in the GMC’s annual training survey, with 66% of trainee doctors and more than half of trainers highlighted to be at high or moderate risk of burnout. A third of emergency medicine trainees and a quarter of physician trainees are at high risk of burnout.  The survey, which gathered responses from 70,000 UK doctors, also points to worrying ongoing discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.   

The RCP has called for urgent improvements to the working experience of the current medical workforce. This is key to the success of the government’s long-term workforce plan, and its ambitious workforce growth targets.