RCoA response to HEE workforce strategy

Responding to the publication of Health Education England’s (HEE’s) draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027, Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“For the first time in a quarter of a century we have a draft workforce strategy for the NHS in England, and after such a long time it is imperative that we get this right. HEE has provided a fair and measured assessment of the health and care workforce, and we are pleased that the consultation process will provide an opportunity for professionals, patients and the public to offer their view.

“In recent years the role of an anaesthetist has developed both within and outside of the operating theatre, providing patient care as the ‘perioperative clinician.’ As a specialty we are involved in the care of two-thirds of all hospital patients and 99% of patients would recommend their hospital’s anaesthesia service to family and friends.

“However, the draft strategy outlines the significant future demand for staff over coming years and the need to recruit, train and retain within a creaking system is a huge challenge. Our recent report on the welfare, morale and experiences of anaesthetists in training highlights that the wellbeing of our young doctors and future leaders is not being adequately safeguarded.

“We welcome the launch of Sir Keith Pearson’s Commission on the mental health and wellbeing of staff, students and those training in the NHS.  As the largest single specialty of hospital doctors, anaesthetists are a bellwether for secondary care and we look forward to providing representation to the Commission.

“The strategy also notes the need to explore options for professional regulation of medical associate professionals – which includes physicians’ assistants (anaesthesia) (PA(A)s) – to augment service delivery alongside doctors.  We are calling on the Department of Health to implement statutory regulation for PA(A)s as a vital next step for the expansion of this new role, after its consultation ends in December 2017”.

14 December 2017