RCP survey finds that 27% of doctors feel personally unprepared for winter, and nearly two-thirds report feeling tired or exhausted

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More than one in three doctors have told a Royal College of Physicians (RCP) member poll that their organisation is not at all prepared for winter pressures.

The survey also found that 27% of doctors felt personally unprepared, and nearly two-thirds felt tired or exhausted.

There were 866 responses to the survey between 30 September and 4 October 2021, with 92% of respondents working in the NHS or more widely in health and social care; 89% were based in England, and 78% were consultants.

Winter is coming

Comments from survey respondents included:

  • ‘Winter is coming—uncertain times. If not prepared, it can go pear shaped and end up in a bad way. Our region is already feeling the pinch of increased numbers at the front end and struggling with social care.’
  • ‘Morale in the workforce is at an all-time low.’
  • ‘Can’t see an end to it.’
  • ‘We remain optimistic and proud to be a part of NHS in fighting past, present, and future waves of pressures and [keeping] patients safe as much as humanly possible. I only hope Government recognises and re-enforces our workforce and supports us.’

Workforce plan

RCP President, Professor Andrew Goddard, said in a statement: ‘There are no two ways about it—it’s an incredibly difficult time to be working in medicine. Some things, such as embracing flexible working, will help to improve morale now, while increasing the size of the workforce will ensure that, in future, staff never feel as under pressure and undervalued as they do today.

‘We need a commitment from Government to produce regular, independent, and published assessments of future workforce requirements across the NHS and social care. This will give us much-needed long-term projections of workforce needs, so that enough staff are being trained up to meet those requirements.’

Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, warned that this winter the NHS could be the busiest it’s ever been: ‘It is vital national bodies work with NHS leaders to get the planning for winter pressures right to help manage the risk ahead.’

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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