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RCP responds to appointment of new secretary of State for Health and Social Care

The RCP has responded to Dr Therese Coffey’s appointment as secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Responding to the appointment of the Rt. Hon. Dr Therese Coffey MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Deputy Prime Minister, the Royal College of Physicians president Sir Andrew Goddard and president-elect Dr Sarah Clarke said:

“We welcome Dr Coffey to her new role as secretary of state for health and social care. There can be no doubt that the challenges facing the health and care service now remain as significant as they were a year ago. In England, a record 6.7 million people are waiting for care, while as of June this year, there are 132,139 full time equivalent NHS vacancies.

“The priorities set out by the new secretary of state provide welcome clarity about her immediate areas of focus. We welcome that doctors are one of those priorities – we have long called for an increase in medical school places. Increasing the number of doctors trained in the UK is vital, but it must be part of a broader long-term expansion of the wider health and care workforce. It is workforce shortages across the whole system that are the biggest barrier to bringing down waiting lists and providing care sustainably in the long-term. The secretary of state must maintain the commitment to deliver the much-needed 15-year NHS workforce strategy that was commissioned by the government earlier this year by the end of 2022 as planned.

“The RCP also expects the health disparities white paper to be published this year as planned and will assess it on the extent to which it lays out cross-government action, and whether it has an equal focus on the wider determinants of health, behavioural factors, and access and outcomes. The cost-of-living crisis is yet another reminder that our health is a product of our environment.

“We hope that her appointment as deputy prime minister alongside responsibility for health and social care is an indication that the government recognises the scale of the challenge facing the entire system.

“The nation clearly faces some significant spending pressures but investing in the health of the nation is a smart investment to make. We look forward to working with the secretary of state to ensure that the NHS and its clinicians get the necessary support and resources to thrive in their roles and deliver the care that patients expect and deserve."