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The RCP responds to plans for retired specialists to help with tackling NHS backlogs

The RCP has responded to plans for newly-retired specialists to re-join the NHS to deliver outpatient appointments to help reduce waiting lists.

In a speech to NHS Confed Expo, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard announced that from the autumn, newly-retired specialists will be ‘offered the chance to keep caring’ and support efforts to bring down waiting lists. NHS England estimates that more than four-fifths of people on the waiting list require an outpatient appointment rather than a surgical procedure.

Newly retired specialists will be able to use a digital platform to offer their availability to trusts in England to deliver outpatient appointments virtually or in person. The platform ‘aims to provide trusts with an alterative to using expensive agency staff.’

It is hoped that this new route back will give experienced specialists an opportunity to continue working in the NHS ‘in a way that fits far better around their lives.’

Amanda Pritchard also touched on the long-term workforce plan in her speech, saying that she was hopeful it would be published very soon.

President of the Royal College of Physicians Dr Sarah Clarke said: “The RCP welcomes any attempt to keep senior colleagues working, with flexibility in working practice becoming increasingly important. Maintaining competence and ensuring appraisal and revalidation will be important for any physician working as part of this programme. We also hope the programme will allow SAS (specialist, associate specialist and specialty) doctors to take part in future, once it has been analysed for impact and value.

“We also pleased to see Amanda Pritchard say that she is hopeful that the long-term workforce plan will be ‘published very soon’. It is vital that government publishes the plan, in full and underpinned by the necessary funding, so we can begin to put the NHS workforce back on sustainable footing.”