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Royal College of Physicians urges MPs in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to address the NHS workforce crisis

Over 50% of senior doctor jobs in Kent, Surrey and Sussex are unfilled, according to data from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

Over 50% of senior doctor jobs in Kent, Surrey and Sussex are unfilled, according to data from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

The RCP has written to local MPs to highlight the shortage of consultants and higher speciality trainees (HSTs) in their area and call for them to put pressure on the government to urgently address the NHS workforce crisis.

From January 2018 to September 2019, 157 physician consultant posts in Kent, Surrey and Sussex were advertised but less than half (75) recruitment processes were successful.

Hospitals also experienced rota gaps, which have a huge impact on staff morale. 80% of consultants and 74% of Higher Specialty Trainees (HSTs) reported that rota gaps and vacancies had negatively affected their work-life balance.

The need for staff to cover gaps in rotas has meant the almost half of HSTs reported missing a training opportunity in the last year due to covering a gap, and almost 60% of consultants reported receiving no compensation for covering gaps or vacancies.

This comes as more and more consultants in Kent, Surrey and Sussex are reaching retirement age. 40% of those currently working in the region are set to retire over the next decade.

The RCP is calling on the government to take sustained action to immediately increase the supply of clinicians.

The RCP believes that one practical solution to developing our home-grown workforce is to double the number of medical school places to 15,000 per year.

Professor Donal O’Donoghue, RCP registrar said: “This data further highlights the immense pressures that the medical profession faces across the NHS.

“Not only are patients and carers having to wait longer for care, but the wellbeing of doctors up and down the country is suffering due to the immense pressures that come from working in a service that is severely short-staffed.

“In order to increase the number of doctors for the future, we’re calling on the government to double the number of medical students.

“Only then can we move closer to providing a health service that is fair and timely for everyone, wherever and whenever they need it.”

Notes to editors

We have written to your local MP to make them aware of the NHS workforce crisis in the area. Please get in touch with them directly for comment.

About the census

Each year the Medical Workforce Unit of the Royal College of Physicians conducts a census on behalf of RCP London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The aim of the census is to provide the three colleges, their partners and others with robust data on the state of the consultant and higher specialty trainee physician workforce in the UK.

The census form was sent to 15,891 consultants and 5,826 (37%) responded. Removing consultants who were no longer working in the UK and adding new consultant appointments gave a total of 16,406 consultant physicians in the UK. For data from those who responded to the census, 5,638 eligible UK responses allows 99% confidence with a 1.4% error margin when extrapolating to the whole consultant physician workforce. The census form was sent to 7,363 higher specialty trainees (HST) and 3,018 (41%) responded, allowing 99% confidence with a 1.8% error margin, when extrapolating to the whole HST workforce.