The RCP has today responded to Sajid Javid’s appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
Responding to the appointment of the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, president of the Royal College of Physicians Dr Andrew Goddard said:
“Congratulations to the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP on his appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
“The last 18 months have been some of the hardest the NHS and social care have ever faced. Many of our members, myself included, have experienced first-hand the pressures of the pandemic – providing direct clinical care to patients with COVID-19, and now beginning to tackle the backlog of diagnostic and outpatient elective care. Pressure is being felt right across the system – our urgent and emergency care systems are as busy as they ever have been.
“Our most recent survey of members showed that 59% thought it would take over 18 months to get the NHS back on an even keel, and that working under the pressures of the pandemic had taken a toll on both team working and clinicians’ mental health.
“A key priority must be to increase the medical workforce if we are to keep the NHS on sustainable footing. We came into the pandemic carrying a large number of vacancies – 43% of advertised consultant posts in England and Wales went unfilled in 2019 due to lack of suitable applicants. The population is ageing, while at the same time our experienced consultant workforce is retiring.
“We also hope that the new Secretary of State will push forward reform of social care to meet the government’s deadline of publishing proposals by the end of the year. A properly resourced social care sector would ease the pressure on hospitals and give people with social care needs the best chance of living as independently as possible.
“Public health, too, needs significant investment given that we have seen that poor underlying health is one of the reasons why the UK is suffering worse than most from COVID-19. But public health investment alone cannot reduce health inequalities. The solution cuts across government departments so we urge Mr Javid to consider a coordinated cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities as work continues to establish the Office for Health Promotion.
“The challenges facing the health and care service as we recover from the pandemic are significant and we look forward to working with the Secretary of State to ensure that the NHS and its clinicians get the necessary resources to deliver the care that patients deserve and expect.”