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RCP welcomes Jeremy Hunt's speech at NHS Providers on improving morale and work-life balance

Following secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt’s speech at the NHS Providers annual conference, RCP president Professor Jane Dacre provides her response.

Jeremy Hunt’s welcome announcements today on improving morale and work-life balance for the NHS come the day before we launch our own RCP report Being a junior doctor, setting out the difficulties our trainee doctors are experiencing, many of them related directly to those issues.

A year ago I wrote to ask the secretary of state to urge trusts to act on a series of measures, including:

  • promotion of strong team structures
  • more notice of rotas and rostering to improve experience and help support the work-life balance
  • support for flexibility
  • support for return to clinical practice after time out.

I am delighted that in his speech today he has announced improvements in all of these areas and that they will now be given priority by the NHS.

There are remaining areas where improvements could be made, as set out in our other, more detailed report on doctor morale released tomorrow, Keeping medicine brilliant, which has a range of solutions. These include:

  • ensuring time for training and teaching
  • making sure clinical teams have access to food, water and rest facilities while at the hospital
  • more careful monitoring of workload and staffing levels.

Equally welcome is the emphasis on encouraging and supporting doctors to become clinical leaders, with a fast-track development programme. This chimes with the work of our own Future Hospital Programme in initiating the role of chief registrar in hospitals, a new medical management role with a focus on developing high-quality, safe care.

The RCP’s Faculty of Physician Associates is also looking forward to working with Jeremy Hunt towards achieving regulation for physician associates.