RCoA responds to the Secretary of State's priorities for the NHS

Responding to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s speech on his priorities for the NHS, Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“We welcome the commitment by the new Secretary of State to his three early priorities – technology, the health and care workforce and prevention – to support the long-term plan for the NHS and to transform health and social care.

“There is no doubt that more effective use of technology needs to happen. This must be clinically led, and clinician input and consultation will be the key to its success. As we know, doctors and the clinical workforce across all disciplines, not just anaesthesia, are frustrated and disaffected by the lack of effective tools and systems that enable them to deliver optimal patient care, impacting service delivery, morale and staff retention.

“Prevention, and avoiding hospital admission is of course important. However, enhancing the way that healthcare is delivered can keep people out of hospital by avoiding unnecessary readmissions. Many patients arrive in hospital in need of treatment but not in a good state to receive it. Helping patients prepare for hospital treatment, and dedicating time to their recovery, saves money, time and most importantly improves outcomes for patients. Anaesthetists are at the fore of developing perioperative care pathways to ensure patients are fit for surgery and have an uneventful recovery after an operation. Perioperative care is a key strategy to address the reasons why 400,000 patients each year are walking into the revolving door of hospital care, followed by emergency readmission.

“We know from our recent welfare and morale research that whilst they are providing safe, effective patient care, anaesthetists in training are experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue due to system pressures, inflexible working patterns, and inadequate facilities for rest and catering.

“Having an adequately resourced workforce that feels valued and supported is vital if we are to provide the most effective care for our patients. We are calling for a national welfare and morale strategy for all NHS staff, capital funding to improve provision for flexible training programmes, and a cultural shift towards an environment that prioritises the safety of patients and the development of staff.

“We look forward to working with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to address these issues and find a positive way forward.”

20 July 2018