Workforce, winter and what's next

At the end of October, I published The perennial winter: solving the workforce crisis. In that article I outlined several small steps that can be taken to ease the workforce crisis.

We are now reviewing our work to support physicians and develop an ever-more-flexible model of care. It includes Improving teams in healthcare, forthcoming guidance on later careers, and our mentoring scheme.

That review is part of forming a strategy for our ongoing contribution to workforce development, which will include many of the steps I mentioned. We will work with a range of partners and stakeholders to make sure that more people join the profession and remain in it for as long as possible.

Write to your CEO

Of course, our focus for the next couple of months is the inevitable additional pressure on the NHS. As I said in October, it remains Underfunded, underdoctored, overstretched, and as doctors we feel this most acutely during the winter months.

That's why the RCP published guidance on preparing for winter last month and sent it to all hospital chief executives. If you haven't already, I encourage you to write to your CEO to ask them how they have made sure that everything in our guidance is in place.

The RCP knows there was little that will have been new to you in our guidance. We know that you are fighting every day to provide the best patient care you can, and you are doing it without the resources you need. You are doing an amazing job, demonstrated by the fact that patient satisfaction has remained steady despite the ongoing lack of funding.

Respond to our winter pressures survey

The more information that we have on your experiences in delivering care this winter, the more effectively we can engage government and effect change. The RCP has launched a survey about your experiences this winter. Your answers will inform our work in engaging and influencing government, such as our recent response to the 2017 Budget.

You may recognise some of the survey questions as the same as those we asked you in January for NHS reality check: Delivering care under pressure. Comparing the results will help us better understand how things have changed over the past year.

Looking forward to 2018

The survey results will be published in February, when we will have begun celebrations for our 500th anniversary. Alongside our regular events such as regional updates, we’re hosting specially themed conferences, museum exhibitions, lectures and talks, showcases, book launches and members’ dinners.

As well as celebrating the past, we will be looking to the future, not least as the RCP North project unfolds. The Our Future Health programme, as outlined in the latest issue of Commentary, will explore the challenges and dilemmas that we face in clinical practice. I look forward to taking part in the discussions with you - email to be involved.

It only remains for me to wish you the best for the festive period, and my hopes that our worst fears won't be realised. But whatever happens, I remain proud to be part of such a dedicated profession.