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RCP response to speech by Steve Barclay at the Conservative Party conference

Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, gave a speech earlier today at the Conservative party conference. Here is our response.

John Dean, RCP clinical vice president, said:

“We need more doctors, urgently. We welcome the increase in medical students starting next September as the first step in a long-term solution. We will closely follow the medical degree apprenticeship pilot and its evaluation. Any changes to the length of medical degrees will need to be fully justified and cannot compromise their quality.

“But we cannot bolster our medical workforce without retaining the staff we already have. Dissatisfaction and attrition rates are a significant challenge for the NHS – we urge the government to take a lead in bringing ongoing strike action to an end. More widely, doctors must feel valued by the NHS including being able to work flexibly, get time off for significant events, have rotas in good time, have hot food and drink available, have the equipment, tools and time to fulfil their professional duties and not face discrimination and harassment at work. This is key to the success of the NHS today and its ambitious long-term workforce plan.

“For now we need to make sure there are enough training places so that current junior doctors can progress, and that they receive the quality of the training they need to look after their patients. This means their trainers are supported and given appropriate time to train too. We are looking forward to working with NHS England to understand what the future workforce and training needs are for the population’s health.”